MAY 5, 2023 — UTSA will begin the installation today of a vibrant 33’ by 13’ mural painted by native San Antonian Cristina Sosa Noriega. The artwork, which speaks to San Antonio’s past, present and future, is slated for the west façade of San Pedro I, home of the university’s School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center.
Noriega’s mural portrays a young Mexican-American girl making a wish on a dandelion, representing her dreams for the future. She wears UTSA’s school colors, a traditional orange blouse with blue embroidery, reinforcing the university’s role as a Hispanic Serving Institution and symbolizing San Antonio’s roots and future.
When viewed from a distance, the mural’s floating seeds start as regular dandelion seeds. Then they slowly transform into digital dandelion seeds that morph into bright color streaks and dots representing data art or “art fueled by science,” as Noriega describes it. This symbolism gives the mural a surreal quality and hints to the building’s larger purpose and themes.
The mural by Cristina Sosa Noriega will be on the west façade of San Pedro I. It is one of two murals being installed on the building.
“I want people to recognize that this young girl can be anything she wants: a data scientist, an artist, an engineer or anything in between,” said Noriega. “Her wishes can and will come true.”
Veronica Salazar, UTSA chief financial officer and senior vice president for business affairs, says the mural is a gift for San Antonians.
“San Antonio is UTSA’s home, and we are committed to enhancing its quality of life. As we developed our plans for San Pedro I, we knew that bold, vibrant public art needed to be a big part of the new facility,” said Salazar.
Noriega specializes in portraits, large scale public art murals, sign painting for local mom-and-pop shops and other creative endeavors. Drawing on influences from her Mexican heritage, she is best known for her “My Loteria” series of 54 oil paintings, in which she re-created the images and symbols of the classic Mexican Loteria with the Tex-Mex symbols from her childhood. She is also the artist behind the winter-themed mural at the Southwest Loop 410 underpass at Villamain Rd., one of a series of four murals commissioned through the City of San Antonio’s Public Art Program.
Last summer, Noriega endured 100-degree-plus heat for several days to paint the mural of 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza, a student who was tragically lost in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary. Amerie wanted to be an art teacher. Her mural was part of the Healing Uvalde Mural Project, an effort by the South Texas artist community to honor the 21 lives lost and promote healing through public art.
Noriega created her UTSA mural with Golden Paintworks® Mural & Theme Paints on polytab, a 100% polyester non-woven fabric that is lighter than traditional canvas. Also known as mural cloth or parachute cloth, polytab allows a muralist to paint indoors in a more controlled environment then adhere the cloth to an exterior wall or, like Noriega’s mural, to panels that will be installed on a wall.
UTSA worked closely with the City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture to advance its public art mural project for San Pedro I. The project began with a community engagement process that enabled the university and its partners to collaboratively define its scope, establish storytelling themes for the murals and issue an invitation for artists to submit their ideas. Centro San Antonio and the San Antonio River Authority were central to these discussions. Members of the community reviewed the concepts submitted by the artists. Five local judges made the final selections.
Noriega was selected to create the mural for the building’s west façade while Mark Hogensen will create a wraparound mural for the building’s northeast corner.
The university wanted the two murals to be educational, interpretive or tell a story focused on discovery, collaboration, new knowledge and science, a reflection of the programs housed in San Pedro I.
Noriega, who has two daughters, had her 13-year-old, Luz, sit as her model for her mural. Luz and her younger sister have both interacted with UTSA. Luz recently took a field trip with her class to explore the university while her younger sister attends a dual language school managed by UTSA.
“The symbolism is not lost on me,” said Noriega. “My own daughter will now be on the side of a building that is part of a Tier One university that is providing so many opportunities for children and young adults in our community and beyond, one that has provided opportunities for her and her younger sister… one that is making dreams come true and preparing countless Latinx students for careers in high-paying, in-demand industries.”
UTSA Vice President for University Relations Teresa Niño added, “The opportunity to work with Cristina and watch her develop this mural has been incredibly rewarding for UTSA. It’s our hope that it’s equally inspiring for our students and our community. We want this quiet respite between the building and the creek to become a destination that inspires people to reflect on their dreams.”
Installation on Noriega’s mural will begin today by San Antonio-based Visual Solutions. On Monday, May 8, Noriega will begin touching up the mural.
San Pedro I is the latest project in UTSA’s Downtown Campus expansion. The $91.8 million, 167,000-square-foot, six-story structure at 506 Dolorosa St. sits along San Pedro Creek, anchoring UTSA to San Antonio’s downtown core.
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