Mural to celebrate Durham Latino community
In downtown Durham Sunday under a vivid blue sky, more color was being added to the view.
A collaborative mural project is underway on the side of Torero’s Mexican Restaurant and Lounge at West Main and North Duke streets. The mural is a project of Two-Way Bridges at Duke University, and funded by a Humanities Writ Large grant. Two-Way Bridges seeks to bridge the communities of Duke and the Latino community in Durham and beyond. When completed this week, the mural will feature two arms grasping each other, a train, agricultural workers and an image of a Latino youth on the two-story brick wall on the Duke Street side of the building.
Torero’s is a central place that Latinos and non-Latinos enjoy, said Miguel Rojas of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke and adjunct instructor in Latin American Studies. He is one of several instructors participating in the project and also inviting local Latino students into their classes at Duke.
Rojas said the design was also a collaborative process, including the experiences shared by local Latino students. Two-Way Bridges is referred to in Spanish as Puentes de Doble Via. Artists painting the mural on Sunday included several visiting from the Dominican Republic. Their previous work in Durham can be found at the Holton Center, Southern High School and Hillside High School.
LeAnne Campbell of the nonprofit Global Leadership Institute is a partner that took local high school students to the Dominican Republic this past summer to explore ways to do public art as a community, and now five mural painters from the Dominican Republic are visiting Durham for the project.
“The focus of the mural is to celebrate the Latino presence in Durham,” Campbell said. “It’s art to celebrate the community and honor their stories and voices.”
The new mural tells the story of migration, Rojas said, with the train representing the train used by migrants and the flow of people and goods, including food. The farm workers are depicted because many North Carolina farm workers are Latinos, he said, and the project celebrates their presence.
Also involved is Durham Latino artist Cornelio Campos, whose work includes paintings of Mexican folklore, pre-Columbian and some political art expressing issues of immigrants in the United States.
“I also talk about the struggle once we come to the United States,” he said. “I do paint a lot of farm workers.” His surface is usually large canvas, so the brick building mural is new.
“It’s a really good experience,” Campos said. “I think it’s great because that’s what it’s all about – to collaborate, get along and learn from each other.”
Charles Thompson of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke said the next part of the project will be a multi-media exhibit of photographs and video that will open in December. They are also producing a documentary of the whole process.
To learn more about Two-Way Bridges, visit http://sites.duke.edu/bridges/.