Student-created Frida Kahlo mural celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

September 27, 2021 | UHCL Staff

Three students in aprons gathered around a Frida Kahlo mural, set up on a low table outdoors
Students in UHCL's Art and Design Program work together to create a mural celebrating the work of Frida Kahlo, with a focus on her love of flowers. Everyone is invited to join two Craft and Learn events associated with the mural.

A group of six University of Houston-Clear Lake art education students, many of Hispanic descent, combined their talents to create a larger-than-life mural of the iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Katie Larvin, Michele Chapman, Nancy Marroquin, Eboni Johnson, Marissa Medellin and Andrea de Robles are all working toward the Art and Design Bachelor of Fine Arts with Grades EC-12 Art Certification degree.

Together, they came up with the idea to paint a mural of Kahlo.

The mural highlights the artist's well-known love of flowers, with a 3-D element added. Viewers will be offered 3-D glasses that allow the warm colors to come forward and the cooler colors to recede. The bright rainbow of acrylic and spray paint colors provides a high-contrast, semi-psychedelic feel and fills four canvases, each 4-by-3 feet, that are hung together to make one large presentation.

Visitors can view the mural in the lobby of the Student Services and Classroom Building, starting Sept. 29. Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15 and will continue through Oct. 15.

All six students agreed the collaboration was fun and productive.

"We all work well together, based on our prior experiences creating lesson plans," Larvin said. "We're worked together in the past and are used to bouncing ideas off each other. I think our relationships are why this project came together so well."

"It's hard to say whose idea the portrait was," said Clinical Assistant Professor of Education David Moya, who organized the effort and is also UH-Clear Lake's director of the Art School for Children. "It was fairly organic and seemed to grow. It was a bit of everyone contributing to the synergy."

Moya said the project is the beautiful result of the students' sense of altruism. "There is no grade for this, it's just a fun bunch of students who are driven, focused and great to work with," he said.

The mural will also play a role in Hispanic Heritage Month events from UH-Clear Lake's Offices of Strategic Partnerships and Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, acting as a backdrop for students at two Craft and Learn events on Sept. 29 and Oct. 13, from 2-4 p.m.

"The Craft and Learn, which is planned through SDEI, gives students the opportunity to create the same kind of flowers that Kahlo used in her painting, and then take their selfies," said Bernadina Gonzales Streeter, internship programs coordinator in Strategic Partnerships.

"We plan to unveil the art piece to cultural organizations based in inner-city Houston such as Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to promote the quality of artistic talent, mentorship by Dr. David Moya, and our BFA 7-12 pathway," she said, noting they hope to draw prospective students to the Art and Design Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. "It's our way of combining art, culture and education."

Last year, UHCL celebrated its 10th anniversary as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. As of spring 2020, nearly 37% of the student population identified as Hispanic, with that number expected to grow.

"The portrait gave us a good reason to get together, have fun, and bring more awareness to Hispanic Heritage Month," Moya said. "This is a mural that will remain long after this month passes, and will remind everyone about the rich beauty and culture that Frida Kahlo represents."

Join us for more Hispanic Heritage Month events and celebrations. For more information, go online.