Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles on different UNM public art pieces. Continue to follow the Daily Lobo for more.
The University of New Mexico has over 25 pieces of public art.
One of these pieces titled “Culturas Del Sol” by James Jacob is a Talavera Tile mural found in the UNM Center for the Arts outside Popejoy Hall in the foyer of the Center for the Arts. Made in 1996, “Culturas Del Sol” translates to cultures of the sun.
Jacob said, “Culturas Del Sol” was a collaborative piece between him, Jose Rodriguez, Jose Lascaro and UNM students.
“Culturas Del Sol” was funded by a grant through the United States Information Agency and was made in partnership with Universidad de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico. The grant was intended to foster partnership between UNM and Mexico, Jacob said.
At the time Jacob made the mural, he was the associate dean of Fine Arts. The mural was installed in the Center for the Arts, because the space was being remodeled, he said.
“There is a duplicate mural at the Universidad de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico. Two were made, one for here and one for there,” Jacob said.
The mural took about one month to make. Talavera tile is a huge part of the architecture in the region around Puebla, which is why it was utilized in the art piece, he said.
Talavera tile has cultural significance and has been around for hundreds of years with roots that can be traced back to Spain, Jacob said.
The main image on the mural is a sun, which is culturally significant to both New Mexico and Mexico, which is why it was chosen as the centerpiece, he said.
In Mexico, the sun is religiously significant, and the Zia symbol is a part of the piece to represent New Mexico, Jacob said.
Mackenzie Everett, a UNM student studying education with a focus in art and history, said art is important, because it is a reflection of culture and history and has the potential to bring people together.
“I think giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in cross-cultural art helps them open their minds,” Everett said.
People can learn about a place through its art — be that graffiti, murals or sculptures. Art tells the story of the people who live there, she said.
“Public art is a way for people to come together to enjoy art and appreciate (one another) and connect over it,” Everett said.
Megan Holmen is a freelance reporter for news and culture at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @megan_holmen.