Two eagles spread their wings on a new mural on Auraria Campus. One represents the United States. The other is the Aztec eagle of Mexico.
It is a reminder that just like the eagles, humans and all creatures of the earth live together under the same sun and moon. That’s according to Mexican artist Spaik, who traveled from the Yucatán Peninsula to Denver to create the “Unidos” mural.
“We only have one life to enjoy everything natural … and (to) create community and work together to have a good presence for all time,” Spaik said.
The “Unidos” mural is celebrated for a number of reasons. It commemorates the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States. It marks the 130th year of the establishment of the General Consulate of Mexico in Denver. And it honors the rich history of the Mexican American families who were pushed from their homes to make way for the Auraria Campus, which houses the University of Colorado-Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Denver.
“To bring such an impactful representation of Mexican and Mexican American culture to Auraria Campus is tremendous,” said David Gilberto Olguín, director of cultural and community engagement of the Auraria Higher Education Center, in a statement. “The mural is a vibrant and exciting addition to our beautiful campus.”
Spaik’s “Unidos” mural joins Korean American artist Cory Feder’s mural, which was unveiled on Oct. 1 and represents the Asian diaspora. Both murals are located on the Auraria Campus portion of The 5280 Trail, a project of the Downtown Denver Partnership that stretches from Colfax Avenue to Auraria Parkway and links neighborhoods and connects diverse cultures.
“Unidos” is a collaborative effort between the Auraria Higher Education Center and the Consulate General of Mexico, and represents the friendship and cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Today, here we are, with those two countries, those two cultures, those two communities finding unity underneath this brilliant piece of work,” said Denver Mayor Mike Johnston during an unveiling ceremony for the mural on Oct. 10. “Unidos, not separados. That is what I hope this square will continue to be for all the students that come to this campus.”
The General Consulate of Mexico in Denver was established in 1893. Auraria Campus is a historic area that provides a lot of the foundation for Denver, said Pável Meléndez Cruz, from the local Consul General of Mexico.
“It’s not only economic issues or diplomatic lines … Mexican American families established themselves here,” he said. “We are binational families now. Two centuries ago, but today, also.”
“Unidos” is also part of the effort to reconcile Auraria’s history. In late August, the “I Am Auraria” exhibit opened in the campus’ library, which tells the stories of displaced Aurarians. It stems from a Museum of Memory project led by History Colorado that fulfills a “commitment to assist communities in documenting and sharing their histories on their terms,” states History Colorado. Still to come for “I Am Auraria” is a community mural that will be painted on the campus’ Plaza building and a robust database documenting Auraria’s residents between 1955 and 1973.
The “Unidos” mural will be seen by thousands of people every day — those who visit the Auraria Campus and those using The 5280 Trail. Spaik hopes it brings to everyone an opportunity to discover another culture.
And “for the new Chicano generations to discover where they come from, where their roots (are),” he said.