An important part of the mission of the Arts + Creativity Center development is to collect and integrate as many local, artistic voices as possible. In the winter of 2017, we reached out to seven artists to create portable murals to be installed near the Arts and Creativity Center land in preparation of it’s development. Artists represented in the mural project include Niomi Fawn, John Paul Granillo, Juan Lira, Israel Haros Lopez, the SIB Collaborative, Jared Trujillo, and Andrea Isabel Vargas-Mendoza. The project was coordinated by the talented painter Israel Haros Lopez. He describes the concept of the finished murals below:
“Now More Than Ever” is a collection of work that begs to start a conversation around diversity and culture. The artists were left with simple instructions: speak to current culture and the future of culture. The work for this show came about right before the 2016 election. I have to speak to these things because they are things that sometimes get silenced in speaking about art and art making. When the current president was elected it sent shockwaves to a nation about the necessity to speak to and address, race, class, gender, equity, heteronormative issues, patriarchy, and healing, among so many other issues. In this post election reality, these works seem to ring with bigger truths, now more than ever. These artists occupy different spaces in the community and by no means represent the entire community, but, the beauty is implicit in their approaches to a complex issue.
While I went out to look for certain qualities in the artists and the art, ultimately, the thread that emerged is a group of artists who are freedom fighters, (although they would probably never use these words to describe themselves). Hopefully, years from now we can look back at not only the art of these artists but their work in the community and that will dictate whether these notions of freedom fighter hold any weight in their lives. I think that even in the future, while some of the artists might be seen in that light, those that truly embody this spirit will more than likely still reject the notion.
Technically, the artwork stands on its own merit, for its skill, and the promise of future skill in light of the reality that the bulk of the artist are still at the beginning of their careers. But, beyond the efficiency and mastery of their art skills, these art pieces and these artist try to convey complex meaning that examines our social fabric. The bulk of the artists don’t like making art for art’s sake. They want a critical dialogue between the art, artists, and viewer. Sometimes, what they want you to consider is very clear and concrete in message and meaning, while at other times it is more abstract, but in the end, they are begging for critical thought and critical conversation. This is crucial in these current times, now more than ever. These conversations need to be had. And while this body of work is a start, now more than ever, shows of this nature, featuring artists of this caliber, artists of these backgrounds, artists that want to engage critically the heart of the matter, artists that want to explore the unvoiced, the silenced, the alternatives herstories, their stories, and histories, need to be given light and space to do so. Now more than ever.
-Israel Haros Lopez
This public art project is part of a number of activities funded in part by a community outreach grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The goal of these projects is to engage with our creative community to make the Siler Yard project more accessible to the communities it hopes to serve. Many of the artists who created murals for this installation also participated in the design process for the project.