This past quarter the Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop completed its mural project at the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Center in Woodland. Directed by Chicana/o Studies assistant professor Maceo Montoya, seventeen students designed and painted the mural over the course of six weeks. Entitled “Still We Rise,” the mural is the second of three murals slated to be painted at the detention center. The first can be viewed here. The last one will be completed by associate professor Carlos Jackson and TANA staff. Below is the mural narrative explaining the imagery.

Spring14Mural1 Spring14Mural2Photo by Jadda Miller

Photo by Jadda Miller Spring 2014 Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop Yolo County Juvenile Detention Center Mural

Still We Rise

Overcoming Barriers

The central focus of this mural employs the theme of change and rebirth. The image of the rising phoenix represents the successes and growth the youth are capable of achieving despite the barriers they face. The brick wall portrays the oppressions that the youth are attempting to overcome. The marionette is used to depict the pressures at home or in the community that prevent the youth from moving forward. In the mural, the youth are climbing out of the bricks and breaking free of the chains that restrain them, depicting the separation between them and the negative stereotypes, inner struggles, and aggressions that inadvertently dictate their life. The Yolo County landscape in the background reminds the youth that they belong to a community, and are capable of being positive contributors to society.

Aspiring to a New Reality

The left side of the mural depicts two faces, a male and female looking to the future and towards a new beginning. They are dreaming of being with their families, about careers options and positive role models, and moments of normalcy and belonging. The first aspiration depicts an urban community with homes. The second dream portrays careers available to them in a range of fields. These are careers that some of the youth mentioned they hope to someday have. The third dream depicts a BBQ and a picnic at the park with family and friends, symbolizing the desire the youth have to belong to a community. Located next to the faces is a river symbolizing constant change, movement, and life. The river has a cleansing effect, erasing past mistakes and paving the way for second chances and new beginnings.

Escape through Knowledge

The right side of the mural portrays images of the beach, rainforest, space and the surrounding fields of the Woodland area emanating from the books. The imagery represents both places they miss, hope to visit one day, and escape to. Books symbolize knowledge, dreams and the hopes for the future. The rainforest represents a place of growth, adventure, and the unknown. The beach represents the yearning for escape, a place where they can go and be at peace. The planets also represent a form of escape and the curiosity for the unknown. Again, we see the open landscape reminding the youth that the outside is just beyond the walls.