Inaugural Frank Porter Graham Bilingüe Elementary School resident artist Antonio Alanís has been working with students on a mural that celebrates diversity, and will finish before Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools start classes on Aug. 29.
His residency began in May 2022 with the purpose of making a mural to address cultural pride, community-building and multiculturalism, among other themes. Alanís said the project also helps the students capitalize on their artistic gifts.
Alanís said he always knew he wanted to be an artist, and now works in the field full-time. He was a former Spanish teacher who began his career as a teacher and said he has over six years of nonprofit experience working in the profession.
Alanís added that he values representing Latin American experiences in his work.
“A lot of the work that I do comes from my Latin American heritage and background,” he said. “I really like the bold Latin American colors — the emotion that comes from being from such a rich culture and to have patterns that involve Latin America."
Frank Porter Graham Bilingüe Elementary School's mission is to "develop bilingual, biliterate and critically conscious students that are prepared to engage, contribute and lead in the communities that surround them," according to their website.
Alanís said the collaborative mural portrays student values that depict what Spanish means to them. He noted the mural is informed by student decisions and the multiculturalism aspect of working in a school that values speaking and teaching Spanish.
Kat Rangel, the assistant principal of the school, said Alanís’ mural helped make the school more vibrant. It is located in the library, which she described as the heart of the learning center.
Rangel noted the bright, colorful mural can be found on two large walls.