In the heart of the East Bay, a vibrant and passionate Guatemalan artist named Rene is making waves with a project that is not only visually stunning but also deeply rooted in social change. Rene’s journey as an artist has been a path of self-discovery, community connection, and a commitment to using art as a powerful tool for transformation. In this interview, we sit down with Rene to delve into the story behind their mural project and the impactful messages it conveys.
Rene’s artistic journey started at an early age. As a child, they were drawn to the world of creativity and self-expression. Art was a source of joy, a way to connect with others, and even a means of teaching fellow preschoolers how to draw. However, as they grew older, the practicalities of life led Rene to focus more on math and science, believing that art might not provide a sustainable livelihood.
Despite this shift, Rene’s artistic spirit never waned. Through college and beyond, they would find themselves doodling, sketching, and creating. It wasn’t until a pivotal relationship with a visual artist that Rene fully embraced their calling. The realization that the things we admire in others often reflect our own passions sparked a transformation. Rene’s sketchbooks became a daily practice, an intimate conversation with their creativity. Rene’s artistry took on a new dimension when it became intertwined with social justice. They embarked on a journey of artivism, creating digital works that amplified important movements and causes. Rene’s connection to their community grew stronger, leading to an opportunity with CommunityGrows, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth in low-income, diverse communities on gardening & healthy living.
The inspiration for Rene’s mural project arose from the intersection of the organization’s mission and their personal artistic vision. The mural, painted on a large piece of plywood, was envisioned as a reflection of the children in the community and the land they inhabit. It symbolizes a reciprocal relationship between the youth and the earth, a shared responsibility to nurture and protect. Creating a mural is no small feat, and Rene’s journey to bring their vision to life was both challenging and rewarding. The design process began by reflecting the essence of CommunityGrows—more than just a logo, it was an embodiment of their values. Rene’s approach was unique, opting to freehand the mural rather than tracing a projected image. The background, crafted with precision and care, laid the foundation for the vibrant and empowering imagery that followed. Collaboration played a pivotal role in this project. The support from some team members, community gardeners, and even the BEETs youth interns added depth and impact to the mural’s message. The process was not without its difficulties, particularly the tight timeline due to an upcoming event. But, as Rene points out, challenges only fuel the sense of accomplishment upon completion. The mural itself is a testament to unity, diversity, and empowerment. Its central theme revolves around the concept of “three sisters,” a trio of plants that thrive when cultivated together. This symbolism mirrors the strength of community, where different individuals come together to support and uplift one another. The mural also features larger-than-life depictions of the children, signifying their potential and the vital role they play in shaping a better future. The mural’s location within the community holds significance. It’s not only a visually striking addition to the area but also a space for potential transformation. The backdrop for performances and gatherings, the mural serves as a focal point, inviting individuals to engage with their surroundings and each other.
The true impact of all the work that went into this project, lies in the lasting resonance the mural will have within the community. Rene’s journey as an artist is not just about brushstrokes and colors—it’s about creating meaningful change through creativity. Their advice to aspiring mural artists is simple yet profound: public art requires willpower and patience, but its potential for transformation is immeasurable. Rene’s work is a testament to this truth, a visual reminder that art has the power to uplift, unite, and empower communities.
In closing, Rene emphasizes the joy that art has brought into their life. Their commitment to using their artistic talents for good shines through their commissions, where they bring digital and physical art to life. To support Rene and explore their incredible creations, visit their Instagram @maizm0rad0 or website at www.hechodemaiz.com. As we celebrate the completion of Rene’s mural project, we’re reminded that art is not just an aesthetic endeavor—it’s a catalyst for change, a bridge between individuals, and a powerful force that can shape the world around us. The mural stands as a testament to the beauty of diversity, the strength of community, and the boundless potential of artistic expression.