Whether visual or performing, an artist’s passion and dedication to their craft is like no other. Muralists display particularly intense dedication to their art form, working as if their life depended on it (which it most likely does). Frederic Vigil, a 64-year-old Santa Fe artist, is no exception. Vigil began work on his mural, Mundos de Mestizaje: The Miracle Wall, nine and a half years ago. Now, how’s that for some dedication?
The mural covers nearly 4000 square feet of walls and reaches up to a 45-foot ceiling. Vigil created the work with the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The mural’s images took a collaborative effort of two and a half years between Vigil and seven historians and scholars to come up with. The particular mural technique used for this masterpiece is known as buon fresco, which requires the paint to be applied while the plaster is still wet, creating a piece that can last thousands of years. Vigil describes it as applying colour “into the walls while they are still alive, still wet“.
The powerful images pay homage to the cultural interconnectedness that Hispanic culture has been born from. Vigil describes the interconnectedness as a “global mix of cultures – Roman Arab, African, Jewish, Native American – that makes us who we are today”. Hence the use of the term “mestizaje”, roughly translated as the process of cultural mixing. I find it interesting that Vigil chose to use this term for his masterpiece, a term usually used to describe colonialism in Latin America and carries negative connotations.
Indeed, Vigil had to pull off a complex balancing act while creating images for the fresco, trying to include equal representations of each culture. However, in the end, the simple use of “mestizaje” in the title makes me wonder if the story told by Mundos de Mestizaje may be skewed in a certain direction.