Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions
Less than one block from the “Viva la Raza” mural is another majestic painting called, “Mural of Peace.” It depicts an eagle and a dove, meeting each other over a backdrop of a world map, while an explosion of color extends from the dove’s outstretched wings. The dove holds an olive branch in its beak, communicating the universal symbol of delivering peace after an extended time of conflict.
This is an inspiring mural, even at a superficial glance. Upon closer examination, you will see additional layers of meaning woven into the dance of colors and paint. During an interview with WUMW 89.7, Milwaukee’s NPR, the artist, Reynaldo Hernandez describes how, “after I was almost done [painting the mural], I started thinking ‘well there’s not really total peace in the world, there’s always tension, so I added the lighting right in the middle of the mural, in the back of the globe to show tension -- hot spots or war zones.”
The mural is not painted directly on the building but instead is painted on 300 4x8 foot wooden panels. In 2016, a section went missing and a ripple of surprise spread through social media, and the Milwaukee Latino artist community. The Esperanza Unida International building, which had supported the art project since 1993, had been sold to developers and was being renovated to make room for upscale apartments called the Mercantile Lofts. Apparently, building codes required natural light for the apartments and the mural was removed without Hernandez’ knowledge or consent. Ultimately, Hernandez was able to find a negotiation with the developers, and the mural today is fully intact, with windows inserted into revised wooden panels.
Cover image credit: David Mark via Pixabay