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Posted: 11/24/21

NEA-Funded ‘The Living Mural’ to Share Laredo History, Culture

 

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Q:  What’s 30-foot long and three stories tall, provides an inspired sense of our shared culture and past and is poised to become a living, iconographic destination for downtown Laredo?

A: “The Living Mural,” a downtown, interactive, three-dimensional mosaic mural funded by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grant to be installed on-site at the historic La Posada Hotel.

This innovative project is being led by Grant authors, principals and TAMIU Art faculty members Emily Bayless, assistant professor, ceramics, and Josias Figueirido, assistant professor, drawing and painting. They are being assisted by student research associates Elkin Cortez Cab, Daniela Jiménez, Lauretta Martínez, and Vanessa Rodríguez Renteria.

While the project is still in development and will not be mounted till late next year, the pair’s enthusiasm for the multi-part, collaborative project is palpable.

Professor Bayless says the idea sprang from the very location that will be the future home to The Living Mural 

“We had a student show at the La Posada in 2020 and remarked at the time that it seemed to be a great collaborative location…the historical center of town, an area ripe for rejuvenation...and we thought a 3D mosaic had the potential to be attractive for an NEA Grant,” she recalled.

The pair worked with the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects to develop their now-funded proposal, which received a $10,000 grant.  Additional support and opportunity-based funding for student research assistance are being provided by the University’s ACT on IDEAS program.  La Posada has provided a home for The Living Mural. 

“With our student researchers, we’ve been mapping out the project’s scope and surveying our collaborators to get a broad sense of all Laredo history and culture.  We want to channel that through imagination to create a vision, not necessarily literal, that is unique, but focused on Laredo,” explained Professor Figueirido.

Among the collaborative Living Mural elements will be painting, ceramics, tile-making and living, native plants. The pair said they’ve realized some challenges already, adding additional research to address them.

“I feel like I’ve become something of a chemist,” said Bayless, “This is an outdoor space, which brings its own challenges with the elements…but in addition to paint, we also plan to affix ceramic elements to this exterior wall, which will require specific adhesives with durability that can endure structure and weather,” she noted.

Figueirido said with the collaborators they’ve assembled for The Living Mural, shared strengths will combine for greater strengths.

“I think that’s an especially important and dynamic part of the project:  the strengths that our collaborators will bring. We will be working with our University community, including our TAMIU Community Garden, and the Webb County Heritage Foundation, Keep Laredo Beautiful, the Laredo Center for the Arts, Cultivarte, La Posada and the downtown district.  The combination will strengthen us all,” he observed.

Bayless said that students will be working with them on-site and they envision opportunities for the community to also visit with the artists outdoors and watch the creative work develop in regular plein air offerings. 

“It’s a remarkable opportunity to build community with public art, to provide students and the community with a rare experience, and to create something that has the potential to be part of downtown and our history forever.  The community has gathered in and near this space since its founding in 1755.   This is an opportunity to continue to celebrate Laredo,” she concluded.

The NEA confirmed the arts contribute to communities in multiple ways.

“The arts make communities more vibrant and fulfilling places, help us to heal, and strengthen our nation’s economy,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, “The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to supporting organizations nationwide, such as TAMIU, helping to make it possible for our arts and culture sector to grow and for more Americans to have access to the arts.”

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations and develop their creative capacities.

Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

Registration for the Spring 2022 semester is underway.  Classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.  Late registration ends Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.

For more information, contact the Office of the University Registrar at 326.2250, email registrar@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the University Success Center, suite 121.

Portrait of TAMIU professors

TAMIU Art faculty members Josias Figueirido, assistant professor, drawing and painting, and Emily Bayless, assistant professor, ceramics will lead the NEA-funded The Living Mural.