My name is Julio Mendoza and I’m a Denver artist who migrated from Cd, Juarez Mexico in 2001 when I was 11 years old. We weren’t poor, we had a house, and my dad had a job in “Las maquilas,” a factory. Juarez was known for violence and the violence against women was very high. Fearing that anything will happen to my mother or my sister or any of us, my dad decided it was time for a new life and to migrate to the U.S.
It took me several years to accept my new situation and understand we weren't going to go back to Mexico. I left my two best friends back in Juarez. When you're just a kid all you care about are your best friends and the joy of playing outside in the streets, in the dirt and on top of the house rooftops. That can never be replaced. Not to mention the cultural shock, the struggle of learning a new language and making new friends. As a child it's not easy to understand all our parents had to go through to migrate to another country, but neither is it easy for a parent to understand all a child goes through either.
This mural represents the plight of every migrant child. The kid is on his way to a new and unknown destination, flying over dahlias which represent change and strength on this new journey. But he is not alone, he is accompanied by monarch butterflies, which are a symbol of migration. He’s not letting go of his most precious toys, his memories, or his home, “Su Hogar,” a place where you live and feel safe, calm and peaceful.
The jaguar mask represents the boy’s culture but it also represents strength, ferocity, and courage. He wears this mask to try to fit in and hide his fears, feeling uncomfortable and insecure in this place where there are mountains and the people speak English.
Juls understands firsthand the trauma that some children experience during that journey. When Juls left Mexico, he lost a childhood filled with play, friendship, and adventure. Despite these losses, Juls chose to create a mural depicting a spirit of courage and hope. When asked what he wanted people to take away from his mural, Juls replied: “healing.” Juls has personally experienced the role that art can play in healing children and adults alike. We hope that Juls’ mural will inspire reflection, curiosity, and healing. Juls was selected from 96 applications in a global call for submissions.
Join us for a reception on Monday, June 12th from 4:00-7:00pm, to celebrate the mural and a new exhibit, Art as Advocacy, in the Art Gallery at the Fulginiti Pavilion.
A discussion with international children's rights scholar and advocate Warren Binford, JD, Ed.M, artist Juls Mendoza, and AHEC Mural Program Manager Frank Garza begins at 5:15pm.
13080 E. 19th Ave.
Aurora, CO 80045
Click for map and parking info>>
Read the May 23rd article, Fly to Heal’ Mural Takes Off to Amplify the Voices of Children in Migration, by Matthew Hastings in CU Anschutz News.