Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions
If you were ever curious about what a Mayan queen might have looked like, you will find out at the next stop through a mural titled, “Viva la Raza.” Located on the west side of the building that houses Gina’s Beauty Salon at 705 W National Ave, this mural kicked off the community-based artist scene in Walker’s Point. Although “Viva la Raza” translates literally in English into “Long Live the Race,” the figurative meaning is much more symbolic. It encourages pride in a Mexican heritage, but it is also connected to the deeper history of the Aztlan, or the Meso-American empire that extended through what is now Mexico and Central America prior to the arrival of the Conquistadors from Spain.
This inspiring and cosmic mural depicts an Aztec Queen and a god supporting the stars, planets, and constellations of Aztec and Mayan mythology. The artist visited the Mexican archaeological site of Chichen Itza before painting the mural, to connect himself to the vision of what he wanted to communicate through his art.
“Viva la Raza” was a collaborative project between artists Chacho Lopez and Ben Stark, both of Milwaukee. Stark is the founder of the non-profit organization, Painting it Forward, which provides opportunities for artists to create culturally-relevant murals in economically vulnerable communities throughout the US and worldwide. In 2016, Stark and Lopez led another collaboration during the creation of a four-story mural in Colombia. In 2017, they painted a 180 foot long and nine-foot-high mural at a school in San Andres De La Barranca, Mexico.
Lopez is also a tattoo artist at Walker’s Point Tattoo Company, and across the street from another mural along the route.
Cover photo credit: Snapwire via Pixabay