Painting in Public Spaces

Budding artists Geovany Flores and José Luis López Godoy honored their former elementary school, Escuela Mariano Navarrete, with the gift of a vast, colorful mural.

What does the mural depict?
José Luis López Godoy: The central idea behind the mural is that it was created for primary children. It is focused upon Maya icons and iconography, mixing a lot of trends—from a little cubism, naive art and pop art—so that the children have a little art history.

Geovany Flores: The making of the mural was inspired by the Popol Vuh. The Popol Vuh is a sacred book of the K’iche’ Maya and narrates the creation of vegetation, animals, the first man made from corn, and, afterwards, the origin of the K’iche’ Maya. The Popol Vuh is like the Bible for the Maya … the perfect, human-divine creation for the gods are the men of corn. You can see in the central part of the mural a tree with corncobs. This narrates the creation of the first men. The tree also signifies the central axis of the universe and narrates the three planes that make up the terrestrial world.

What inspired you to make the mural?
Flores: José took the initiative and contributed the first ideas … he went to the school and spoke with the director. The director said, yes, we could make the mural.

Godoy: The kids gave us the inspiration. We did a quiz where we summoned all the kids to make a drawing of what worried or bothered them the most. In the drawings we found, with much surprise, that they were most affected by the violence in their lives. So we wanted to relate in the mural something more, showing different alternatives.

What do you hope the work accomplished?
Godoy: That the children see a little light through all these drawings, that they see a little hope through these stories related through the mural. That, yes, one can: one can accomplish things through little means.

Flores: The mural also has other messages, including the importance of voluntary work as part of developing a community. We began without money, we began without anything, only with the idea… The work was purely voluntary. I believe that this is the message as well: the importance of voluntary work and that it is possible to do things if one really wants to.

How long have you been creating art?
Flores: Fifteen years researching art and making art; studying the techniques of art.

Godoy: Honestly, I have devoted 10 years to art. But, you bring something from when you are a kid. You have this restlessness. Yet, I became 100 percent devoted to expressing myself through a canvas 10 years ago.

Will you create more murals?
Flores: We have already started another mural in a school in Jocotenango (Rafael Rosales). We are on a break for many reasons, including economic reasons. But we are going to continue with this project… We have intentions to continue making projects in public spaces in our city.

Godoy: First and foremost, the idea was to make a mural in order to reach out to the people with our work. Not to maintain this idea of elitism that one only keeps their art inside a gallery when art can be created in public spaces so that it reaches the entire population. It is a way to make people aware through art. And this is wonderful.

photos by Geovany Flores

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