Confetti, smiles, cotton candy, flowers, art, and culture all perfectly blended in celebration of the new mural at Esperanza Academy Charter School, “Sembrando Sueños, Cosechando Esperanza” (“Planting Dreams, Harvesting Hope”), created by Latina artist Patricia Barrera with the help of several students from the Academy.
The new mural at Hunting Park is a symbol of “culture, beauty and a present to the future” as described by Rev. Luis Cortés, Founder, President and CEO of Esperanza. “This mural demonstrates how cultural representation through artwork can inspire our youth and transform the landscape of our neighborhood,” Rev. Cortés said.
The dedication event included remarks by stakeholders and elected officials, as well as performances by the Esperanza Academy Dance Ensemble, Choir, and String Orchestra.
It “is the most precious gift to the community,” Sheila Hess, Philadelphia’s Mayor Representative said. “Your Mayor congratulates you for this beautiful work.”
Artist Barrera involved the students since the inception of the mural and their personalities and stories are evident in the artwork.
“When the project began, I asked the students what the word “Esperanza” meant to them, about what makes Esperanza unique and the qualities that define an Esperanza student and teacher,” Barrera said. “I also asked them about what they would like people to see about the school in the mural. Words such as equality, growth, hope, unity, and opportunity came up but what seemed to be the most important for the students was that Esperanza felt like home, a community, a family.”
Through a variety of art activities, Barrera guided the students to explore how factors such as race, religion, and family shape a person’s identity. “Patricia helped emotions shine through and we’ve witnessed how she helped the students tell their stories,” Joan Reilly, Chief Operations Officer of Mural Arts Philadelphia said.
The mural was funded by The William Penn Foundation which supported Mural Arts Philadelphia’s two-year Arts Integration Partnership at Esperanza Academy from 2015-2017.
See video recap below!