Art in the Heritage District – Murals: Stop 17
Murals are an engaging and vivid way to spark curiosity about a community’s priorities and its interests. They can inspire people to learn more about the community and its leaders. They can also awaken people to perspectives they perhaps haven’t had the opportunity yet to explore.
Mary Ellen Fresquez, a longtime community leader and arts and diversity advocate for the town, is the owner of the building on which the following mural is currently being painted. It is not yet complete but from its amazing beginning one can tell that it is both powerful and empowering. The award-winning artist is Edgar Fernandez. Fernandez is an experienced Xicano muralist who has painted many murals and has had multiple group and solo shows in the Phoenix area for the last 10 years. He has a BFA in painting from ASU. You can learn more about him through instagram.com/8ahau.
Just south of Joe’s Real BBQ is this beautiful vision. Mary Ellen is very excited about this mural, as am I, and in email correspondence told me, “I’ve wanted to do this for my community for a very long time.
Fernandez, the muralist, quotes Mary Ellen when asked about the importance of this mural: “The importance of this mural is to show resilience and diversity. ‘I’d like viewers to see a reflection of themselves flourishing and connecting within an inclusive and multicultural community.’ “
We choose the five women of color to be an example of strength and unity. The raven bird is a symbol of guidance. The quote is from a song that reminds the woman who commissioned me of her mother.
The impact this mural will bring to this community is tied to bringing visibility to women of color, ultimately respecting the value of their presence in society.
I would appreciate more murals that represent women of color as strong and influential members of this community. I would love to see murals the tell the story of the indigenous people of this land.
Mary Ellen writes:
I have always wanted to have visitors to Downtown experience a more diverse sense of inclusivity, and I know of no better way of doing this than to showcase young Latinas/women of color. They reflect empowerment, resilience, beauty, creativity and honor.
When finished (early July), the mural will have a dimensional background and include text from a traditional Mexican song.
My mural focuses on women of color, but other important topics include police brutality, community engagement, role models, women empowerment, LGBTQI, Our Lady of Guadalupe, etc.
My hope is that this mural will make people more accepting of a demographic that is a tiny minority in Gilbert.
Mary Ellen’s mural is an inspiring example of what’s possible to both acknowledge and honor Latinas and women of color. The contributions made to our community by women of color are important. Her effort to highlight these contributions through a bold and stunning mural is an incredible testament to the strength of the diversity in our community.
Fernandez, Edgar. Message to Elaine Kessler. 18 June 2020. Instagram.
Fresquez, Mary Ellen. “Murals.” Message to Elaine Kessler. 5 June 2020. E-mail.
Kessler, Elaine. “Downtown Gilbert Murals.” Elaine Kessler Photography. 2020. https://www.elainekesslerphotography.com