October 30, 2020

When art has meaning for everyone

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This archived article was written by: Rodrigo Leon

With all the controversy surrounding immigration, a few things have come to light. One mural doesn’t have much publicity, but what it represents and means is something truly grand. “Calle 16” is a mural in Phoenix, AZ., started five years ago by Silvana Salcido Esparza in response to Senate Bill 1070, which allowed police officers to request documentation from anyone they think might be undocumented. Along with a local artist, Esparza created this mural over the next year with help of Latina/os from all over Arizona.
This mural, and the subsequent murals painted every year, mean more today that people think. This isn’t just to show the positive side of the Latina/o community in Arizona even after Senate Bill 1070, but take the time to think why is it that the mural needed to be painted. If the only reason for the mural was to show the positive side of the Latina/o community, they could have said that in the news coverage that followed the passing of the controversial bill.
The coverage of the event did not have anything to do with the people who it affected, they ignored the Latina/o community when covering something about them. Now the answer is a little clearer. The mural was painted to express something that they had never and still are unable to say. This is not just art, but a grievance; a voice to those that don’t have one. We may have the freedom of speech, but not the right to be heard. When people have grievances fall on deaf ears, they figure a way to make people listen, painting a mural, rioting or throwing tea into a harbor.
“Calle 16” now has a large number of murals, all unique and hold a different message from a different person whose voice hasn’t been heard. We quickly dismiss things like this and call it simply art; the fundamental problem is it is never just art. Look up these murals and what people have to say about them. You get a sense of some of the grievances Latina/os have. Every voice who is not heard has a way to express itself, whether that be vlogging, writing, painting or poetry. We all resort to something to express ourselves, except this message is more powerful than most and represents more people than most.
Now ask your friendly neighborhood Latina/o their thoughts on Trump or immigration. Ask anyone what is on their mind, some people may shock you.

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