Mexican artist leads mural project honoring Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia
When Mexican artist Cesar Viveros was told he might be chosen to developed a mural in honor of Pope Francis he didn’t know if he was going to be selected, but he was certain of one thing: He had the inspiration to see it through.
The World Meeting of Families and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program announced on Thursday that Viveros will lead the development of a 4,239 square foot work of art honoring the historic visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia in September.
“During the selection process I showed them images that speak of our relationship as a family, as parents who can influence the lives of their children. What you learn as a child greatly influences your future,” Viveros said.
Inspired by the theme of the World Meeting of Families “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” the mural will be titled The Sacred Now: Faith and Family in the 21st Century. The project will be displayed on the external walls of St. Malachy School, located in North Philly.
In accordance with the artist’s vision and created from 153 individual panels measuring 5-feet by 5-feet, the mural will be installed across the three sections of the St. Malachy school building. According to the artist’s statement, the mural aims to capture the impact of “relationship, interaction, constructivism, actions, inclusion, compassion, and every moment of life that gives us the opportunity to share who we are by living this mission of love.”
The muralist was born in the Mexican state of Veracruz and has lived in Philadelphia for almost 18 years, and has developed more than 30 projects throughout the city. “Muralism in Philly is a noble profession and hard work. But it is also an opportunity to serve and give voice to the voiceless,” Viveros said to AL DÍA in 2009.
Viveros said Thursday that one of his most important projects was the partnership with inmate-artists at the State Correctional Institute at Graterford, a mural called Healing Walls. “I think that mural brought visibility to the inmate-artists. My work, more than anything, focuses on marginalized groups that do not have much visibility,” Viveros said.
“This project surpasses everything I have done in the past. This is the mother of all the murals,” Viveros said. “Children inspired me. They reminded me of the days when my mother taught me to believe in something greater, that you can humbly become part of something as big as the universe.”
He added that many of the images in the mural depict children praying because he believes “it is important that children grow up with faith regardless of their religion. Faith keeps you alive, gives you certainty that there is always hope for a better life or for a better world,” Viveros said.
Organizers encouraged community members across the region to participate in painting the mural before it is installed at St. Malachy School. A series of “Paint Days” were also announced and Saint Malachy School will host the first on Tuesday June 2.
Other "Paint Days" sites include:
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Father Judge High School
Saint Hubert Catholic High School for Girls
Holy Family Regional Catholic School
Little Sisters of the Poor Holy Family Home
Saint Helena Parish