New mural in Austin tells a story of Latino culture

Published 7:00 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

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Austin’s newest addition to the community space was officially unveiled Friday afternoon, though there is a good chance you’ve seen it already.

In a sprawling piece that takes up the entire eastern side of the Austin Municipal Pool, the new mural is a testament to Latino culture and is the creation of local artist Flor Soto and public artist Aaron Johnson Ortiz, who is based out of the Twin Cities.

While Ortiz has been creating community art since 2015, this newest mural to Austin is Soto’s first, and she said after a ribbon cutting ceremony that she was inspired by another piece art that highlights Austin’s diverse background.

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“The idea came about last year,” Soto said through Ortiz. “I was particularly inspired by the photographer William (Taufic) and his book ‘Our Austin, Our America.”

The mural’s subjects, brightly colored images across its length, highlighted by a massive portion of the wall being dedicated to a sun-figure, represents various elements of Latino culture.

Soto drew on her inspirations of the Day of the Dead to build elements of life and death into the finished piece.

“It also shows the family roots and where my people come from,” she said.

Roots was a common theme for both Soto and Ortiz, who worked with her in a mentorship type role on her first project.

Ortiz said he works with Soto and in other opportunities outside of Minneapolis, feeling that it was important to work with local artists than simply coming in  and doing the job himself.

“We really wanted to make sure we worked with a local artist,” Ortiz said, referring also to Neo Muralismos de Mexico. “For me it was a mentorship process. Part of my work is with emerging Latino muralists that are coming out of my home state.”

The mural itself was started in April and was finally completed on Sept. 3. While Soto, who was first known in Austin for her piñata work, said she had more ideas for more murals, she doesn’t have any firm plans for her follow up piece quite yet.

But she knows where she is going.

“We keep moving forward,” she said with a laugh.