To kick off a series of Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations and programming, Western New Mexico University invited Las Cruces’ Zepeda to create a temporary chalk art installation at the base of the staircase between Student Memorial Building and Graham Gym.
The mural, still in the process of being completed in this photo, combines pre-Columbian Mesoamerican symbolism and Catholic symbolism, Zepeda said. “Our Lady of Guadalupe is considered the mother of the Americas,” he said, addressing a crowd of students on Wednesday.
Our Lady of Guadalupe brought together two different pre-Columbian myths, Zepeda said, explaining that the typical depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a glyph of the Aztec mother goddess. “It’s how the Catholics told indigenous people they’d been worshipping Mary all along,” he said.
Zepeda used the pyramid structure of the staircase to create a Toltec temple motif with Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. He’s in here,” the artist said, pointing to the belly of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “Christians call him Jesus.”
The other myth referenced in the mural is the end of the Toltec calendar and the initiation of the fifth world, which is called the fifth sun, in 2012. “By combining Guadalupe with this calendar, I’m referencing la ráza cósmica, the cosmic race. In the Americas, you get all the races combined creating this new race that launches the future. Today, we’re living in a world where all our cultures are talking to each other for the first time. It’s literally initiating the fifth sun,” he said.
The mural centrally portrays children running into a new era among the classic indigenous motifs of flowers and hummingbirds, which are native only to the Americas. “In many ways, you guys are children of the fifth sun,” Zepeda told the students.