Mexican Murals - Feminist Art on a Blue Collar Business

in murals •  9 months ago  (edited)

Who says there are no good murals in the city hasn’t been looking in the right places! After being super disappointed at my own neighborhood of San Miguel Chapultepec, I found some really cool ones in the Colonia Obrera, near the metro station Chabacano.

An Area Specialized in Visuals

I needed to have some cards printed, so I went into the neighborhood where almost all of the businesses have something to do with graphic design. In this quarter you can have anything printed: cards, fliers, posters, billboards, stickers, T-shirts, buttons, mugs, you name it. They’re not even picky about the motives: swastikas, penises, or corporate logos, … anything you pay for they print it for you. Of course a decent job needs time, and as I was waiting for my cards to be printed, I walked around in the area.

Feminist Art on a Blue Collar Business

I didn’t have to go far to find this elaborate mural on the wall of an old automotive shop, on the corner of the streets Isabel la Catolica and Juan A. Mateos. It is called Erick’s Service, and as the sign says, has been there since 1945. The mural on its walls features a lot of pre-hispanic art, and some unexpected images regarding women. Sure, from far away it’s hard to see, so let’s look at the details:

Mother Earth Giving and Taking Lives

The image in the center of the mural is known as La Coatlicue, or ‘skirt of snakes’. She is the Aztec primordial mother goddess, symbolizing the earth, who gave birth to the war-god Huitzilopochtli. Beside her skirt made of snakes, she also wears a necklace of human hearts, hands, and skulls, and instead one she has two heads of snakes. While being a nurturing mother, she is also dangerous with a bloodthirsty side, symbolizing that the power to give life can also take it away.


Daughter Moon, and How She Got There

The image to her right is her daughter Coyolxauhqui. She is said to have rebelled against her mother, together with her brothers and sisters, as she was pregnant with Huitzilopochtli. Hearing about this plot inside the womb, the war god emerged from his mother, fully grown and armed, and wrecked havoc on his attacking siblings. He immediately cut off Coyolxauhqui’s head, and threw it up in the sky where it became the moon, and did likewise with his brothers, who became the stars.

Beware Machos of Strong Women

Between these two goddesses is an image of a strong female character, this time fully human. Although she’s drawn with sexy curves and tight fitting clothes, her skull earring, her spiked bracelet, and the hammer she’s holding all suggest that she won’t take any crap from any men. To make things even clearer, the words written at the bottom of the picture say roughly: “Don’t touch, don’t abuse, don’t insult, don’t be a jerk, dude!” Wow, what a message on a mechanics’ shop!


An Homage to a Victim

On the left end of the mural is a picture of an actual person, Regina Teuscher Krueger. According to the sign, she was an 18 year old student when she was murdered in the Square of the Tree Cultures of Tlatelolco in 1968. Though it may sound like a case of feminicide, something that the northern border region has become infamous for in the last decades, the given information suggests otherwise. It was the student protests of 1968 that ended in a violent bloodbath on October 2, when the military and police massacred hundreds of unarmed protesters. So it can be assumed that this lady was also one of the victims.

The Face of the Owner

With all these symbols oriented towards women, the man behind the shop, Erick,  doesn’t seem like your typical Mexican macho-man (...or he’s good at covering it up!) His portrait on the wall at the entrance offers an image of a kind young man. Though as time seems to fly, especially compared to the static image of a wall painting, one can only guess what he looks like today. A kind older man maybe? Never mind, together with the rest of the pieces, he made his mechanics’ shop a visually interesting dedication to women’s issues, the opposite of what would be expected from a Mexican mechanics’ shop.

If you liked this, check out my developing series on Mexican murals:  

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Seeing a mural like this on an old automotive shop must have been a wonderful surprise. Such an interesting combination of images relating to women, from goddess to protesters. ♥︎♥︎⚖️♥︎♥︎

It was for certain. The part I would be even more curious about is how old the mural is. What would be extremely surprising is if these images were as old as the shop.

More than likely sometime after the 1968 student protests seeing that was when Regina was murdered. So could be anything up to 50 years old, I guess. ♥︎♥︎⚖️♥︎♥︎