Historic Latinx murals return to campus Feb. 21
workers on scaffolding installing large mural
The Graduate and La Victoria, two vibrant murals arrive at their new home at the Illini Union as work crews and preservations give the works a display space on the southwest stairwell. The vibrant room-size murals, once located inside the former site of the department of Latina/Latino studies building at 510 E. Chalmers St., Champaign, which also once housed the La Casa Cultural Latina, were created in 1974 as a protest piece by alumnus and artist Oscar Martinez and fellow students.

Student Affairs

Murals removed for restoration from the former home of the department of Latina/Latino studies and La Casa Cultural Latina at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be reintroduced to the university and the local community in a pair of events Feb. 21.

A viewing will take place at the Illini Union’s South Lounge, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., including an opportunity to meet one of the artists, Oscar Martinez. Restored artwork will be on display in the stairway leading to the RSO office on the south end of the Illini Union. Light refreshments will be available.

The celebration continues with a program and reception at Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The program includes Chancellor Robert Jones and artist Martinez.

“The murals coming back is a big celebration for our Latinx community of not only current students, faculty, staff and community members, but also our alumni and the years of history our community has on this campus,” said Mariana Ortega, the director of La Casa Cultural Latina. “This is a perfect picture of what resistance and beauty look like.”

person in blue graduation gown reaching out to help other figures climb a steep hill

The Graduate and La Victoria, two vibrant murals arrive at their new home at the Illini Union. NOTE: Window reflections and light reflections are visible in the surface of the protective plexiglass.

The Illini Union reinstallation will be permanent, Ortega said, and it’s expected the Spurlock reinstallation will remain for 10 years – with the hope a new La Casa building will be in place by that time.

With the help of students, Martinez painted the vibrant room-size murals symbolizing the struggle of Latinx students in 1974 as a measure to prevent the closure of the Latino Cultural Center. The artwork was removed from the building at 510 E. Chalmers St., Champaign, in 2016 and transported to Chicago for restoration.

Funding of the $390,000 total cost for removal of the murals from the original building, conservation and restoration, framing, transportation and reinstallation was provided by the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Latina/Latino studies department, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Spurlock Museum and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

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