Preservation of Chicano mural under way

The mural “La Marcha Por La Humanidad” before the construction on the UC began. | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

The mural “La Marcha Por La Humanidad” before the construction on the UC began. | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

The mural “La Marcha Por La Humanidad” was created by Mario Gonzalez and Ruben Reyna in 1973 while both were students at UH and is now located in the University Center Cougar Den.

With the renovation of the UC, many wondered what would happen to the painting.

“The mural represents more than 500 years of Hispanic history,” Reyna said.

According to the “Proposal for the University of Houston System System Wide Arts Acquisition Committee to accept ‘La Marcha por la Humanidad’ into the Public Art Collection,” the mural was proposed at a time when student diversity was perceived to be low.

“The early 1970s was the apex of the Chicano Movement, an important national social movement where people of Mexican descent sought meaningful social change,” the proposal said.

“The mural project, named ‘La Marcha por la Humanidad’ by Mario Gonzales as a tribute to David Alfaro Siqueiros, is a direct result of this important social movement and also saw a rebirth in Mexican American culture, history, music and art. The Chicano Student Mural was also meant to be a tribute to this important historical period in our country and a very important part of UH’s history.”

The mural will remain at the same location, which will be the lower level of a newly transformed bookstore and will be used as the center of a designated reading area available to students.

“The bookstore with the mural is expected to open at the end of 2013. Prior to or around that opening time, Mario will be adding to the mural by painting an additional lower section,” said Mei Chang, senior project manager in Facilities Planning & Construction.

UH is working to preserve the mural as work continues in the renovation of the University Center.

“The art conservators have completed the first layer of protection. I have been present this week for the removal of the metal brackets,” Gonzalez said.

“I am ready to move forward next Monday in patching the holes left behind by the removal of such brackets. The final layers of protection will follow.”

The final layer of protection consists of a watertight box made of plywood and roofing material.

“I am flattered and honored that UH students have made it possible for the mural to survive,” Reyna said.

Both artists are grateful the mural has received such great attention and that various communities within UH fought to keep their work alive.

The point of the mural is not only to depict history but also to inspire and push students to question their journey through life and education.

“What is being done now to preserve the mural will be for present and future students as well as the Houston communities, all of Texas and U.S. as a whole,” Gonzalez said.

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  • Why not make a new one? I honestly think the mural isn’t worth saving. Just take super high resolution photos, and tear it down.

    It is honestly very ugly (not just my opinion) and the anti-American stance in the mural has made several people feel uncomfortable. I mean depicting Uncle Sam as an evil-looking skeleton man isn’t exactly winning the hearts of every American. If this is how to “depict history”, then I gotta say it’s a pretty bad depiction and very one-sided.

    I think we’ve moved on to the point where it shouldn’t matter whether you’re an Irish-American, Mexican-American, Chinese-American, etc. We are all Americans.

  • if only things were so simple and we could easily “move on” from things such as institutionalized racism and discrimination..

    anyway, this mural has historical significance and if it wasn’t for the group of students fighting to keep it a part of the UC, it would’ve long been destroyed. the chicano mural movement and the chicano struggle movement itself are chapters in history that we can learn from, not something we should simply sweep under the carpet despite the travesty of a struggle that it was (as was the civil rights movement in general).

    good to see it well taken care of.

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