Indigenous artist showcases massive mural downtown
The radiant colors of pink, orange and purple showcasing artwork unique to Arizona’s 22 tribal nations can not be missed on Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, as a massive mural greets spectators in honor of the Super Bowl.
“This 95,000-square-foot mural is the heartbeat of (the) Super Bowl,” said Daphine Wood, director of events for the NFL.
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The mural is the work of Indigenous and Chiana Artist Lucinda “La Morena” Hinojos. She brought the Super Bowl art theme to life with elements representing Arizona’s Indigenous cultures and histories.
“It’s very important to the NFL that we’re capturing Arizona and the community,” Wood said, and Hinojos’ art is at the center of the programming for the Super Bowl.
Hinojos said taking on the role from the NFL was the right thing to do, and it was the right project for her.
“It’s been an honor and amazing time for me,” she said. “I’m planting those seeds and paving the way for our future generations.”
Hinojos said she hopes that the Indigenous and Chicano youth see the work that has been done, and it’ll inspire them to look up to all the artists involved.
Doing this artwork on this massive platform, Hinojos said, has been “very heartwarming” for her because she’s doing it for the community, especially Indigenous and Brown communities.
The NFL selected Hinojos to produce the theme artwork for Super Bowl LVII. Her work was featured on all the promotional items related to the Super Bowl, including the gameday tickets. She is the first Indigenous artist to create artwork for the Super Bowl.
“Arizona has such a rich cultural history, and it was really important to us that we highlight that in a big way,” said Stephanie Borgese, the NFL senior director of creative and artist.
Borgese said when she saw Hinojos’ art for the first time, she was struck by the vibrancy and energy she puts into all her work.
“She has a very unique way of working with color and design,” Borgese added. “That made her the perfect artist to bring these themes of celebration, unity, football, and local culture all together.”
The mural installation near the intersection of Second and Washington streets in downtown Phoenix is Hinojos’ latest addition to her work.
She was joined by several local Indigenous artists and her family to help bring the mural to life. Each artist added their own element to the mural representing their Indigenous community.
Hinojos said that the work was hard, both physically and emotionally, but she’s proud that the crew never gave up and they could finish in time.
“We pushed through, because we need to be in these spaces. It’s very important for us to be in these spaces. That representation is needed,” Hinojos said. “It’s not just a painting and a mural. It’s bigger than that. It’s a culture shift.”
Photo by Shondiin Silversmith | Arizona Mirror
The mural has a bright pink backdrop that features the White Tank Mountains with a sun rising over the peaks. Within the mountains are 22 symbols in honor of the 22 tribes in Arizona. The Lombardi Trophy fills the mural, surrounded by a landscape unique to Arizona.
The mural is full of color except for one part: The San Carlos Apache woman is painted in black and white with only a streak of yellow in her hair. She is kneeling over, fixing her traditional moccasins and Apache camp dress.
San Carlos Apache Artist Carrie “CC” Curley contributed to the mural and said it was a tremendous collaborative effort, and each of them never gave up on getting it finished.
“Working together in that way was really beautiful,” Curley said. She painted the San Carlos Apache woman featured in the mural modeled after her sister.
Curley said she added the streak of yellow in the hair in honor of corn pollen and how, as part of her traditional teachings, it is used when offering prayers.
“It’s a beautiful reflection that is still with us today,” she added.
When people see the wall, Curley said they’ll be able to see the traditional knowledge of the artists involved and their cultures and identities.
Diné designer and creative advocate Eunique Yazzie worked alongside everyone involved in the mural. She said the representation of Indigenous communities on this scale was a long time coming, and it was a proud moment to finally be here.
“As Indigenous people in Arizona, we all have different perspectives and points of view and different parts of the land that we come from,” she said. So many came together to be part of the storytelling showcased in the mural.
Yazzie said that when people walk down the street, they will first see the mural’s significant elements, including the woman, the trophy, the mountain and the hummingbird. That is when people will be in awe of the mural and notice how realistic the work is.
But, as they get closer, Yazzie said that’s when they’ll notice the concept opens up to the land, and “all of a sudden, you get the chills.”
Yazzie said this mural is the artists sharing what they felt in their hearts.