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First installment of Stan State Mural Project reflects focus on social justice
stan state mural
The new mural at Stanislaus State features a figure in four different poses in a colorful landscape of land and plants (Photo courtesy of Stanislaus State).

The Art Courtyard adjacent to the Stanislaus State art building is buzzing with visitors, thanks to the completion of a mural that graces the upper portion of the east-facing wall.

The artwork, by Mexico City-based mural artists Mazatl and his partner Kill Joy, a Filipina-American who grew up in Texas, features a figure in four different poses in a colorful landscape of land and plants.

“Everybody I’ve talked to about it has been super thrilled and really excited,” said Marty Azevedo, who teaches printmaking in the art department. “At least in our courtyard it feels like it’s totally been transformed.”

When funding was provided for what is expected to be three murals on campus, Azevedo reached out to Mazatl, an artist whose work he knew.

“One of the requests from the students was the mural represent the Latino/Hispanic population on campus, Azevedo said. “His work is all about social justice and being part of under-represented communities. I thought he would be a really good fit for this project.”

The mural project arose from a student collective comprised of various campus groups wishing to spur conversation about campus inclusivity and acceptance. The collective submitted a set of recommendations to President Ellen Junn, including one for more art on campus, and this project was born.

The artists arrived on Oct. 27 and met with students.

“When we got a chance to talk to them, a lot of what I had expressed and the work I was doing was coming from a place of anger and feeling frustrated,” said art major Jasmine Diaz, a member of the student collective. “I think this mural represents a lot of healing. They talked about why create out of anger when we can create out of compassion? I felt they came with medicine.”

It was a tonic for Ethnic Studies Professor Cueponcaxochitl Moreno Sandoval, who teaches introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies, among other classes, and is the advisor of the Indigenous Students in Activism club.

“The mural is in four sections,” Moreno Sandoval said. “The first section is a reference to Xochipill (god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song in Aztec mythology), sitting in a universal position I saw when I was in Morocco.

“More than anything, this mural raises people’s consciousness, looking at earth-based knowledges as something that is promising and necessary for our human life and our human survival.”

Artistically, the mural, on which students helped with clean-up and touch-ups, is a marvel, Azevedo said.

“I’m impressed by the scale, obviously,” Azevedo said. “Their line work and use of paint is beautiful. Often you see murals exploding with colors, and that’s a little overwhelming. I think what they do nicely is everything is a little bit subtle. It feels more relaxing.”

Diaz, the art major, appreciates the aesthetics, too, but sees more.

“For me, it’s special for the art department,” Diaz said. “It makes me feel proud to be in the art department.”