Mural celebrates Latino heritage in the region

Mural celebrates Latino heritage in the region

Image Credit: Kyle Valentini

An art project several months in the making was officially unveiled to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 15 in downtown New Philadelphia. The date was significant because it is recognized as the day Guatemala gained independence from Spain in 1821. It also marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.

For the past eight months, the Tuscarawas County Public Library System and Tuscarawas Arts Partnership have been working together to coordinate the project for students of Latino heritage who attend Dover High School and New Philadelphia High School.

The brightly colored mural is a collection of 4-by-4-foot panels designed by the students. Each panel represents the students’ quilt-like designs and individual expressions along the center of each square.

“I want to take a moment to express how proud I am of everyone involved in this project,” said Wilma Mullet, executive director of TAP. “I feel like I am about to tear up a little bit. It is beautiful, and it truly represents what we value here in Tuscarawas County, celebrating all cultures and celebrating all people who are here because Tuscarawas County is our home.”

The lead artists on the project provided guidance and mentorship and included Kathi Tustin,
Jorge Antunez and Jason Hershberger.

“The children were amazing,” Kathi Tustin said. “It is obvious the nature of their abilities. Their heritage is on display here. They have a work ethic I have never seen in children anywhere. They listened clearly, and they were amazing to work with. I am very proud to have been a part of this. I feel humbled by their ability, and I can’t really take any credit for what they did. They created a very cohesive piece of artwork that will be in this community for a long time and is a testimony to their beautiful spirits.”

The student artists who created the mural panels are Angelica Pastor Gomez, Maria Hernandez, Jeny Velasquez, Sammy Ceto, Sheila Ajanel, Araceli Ajanel Herrera, Angie Solis, Katie Rose Miller and Kevin Raymundo.

“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving New Philadelphia this,” Mayor Joel Day said. “I am amazed by the artistic talent that we have in our community.”

Day went on to tell the students how proud he was of the mural and that it is just one of their contributions to the community.

“We all can look here and see this and know you did this,” he said to the students. “You did this, and that is you.”

In addition to TAP and the Tuscarawas County Public Library System, The Ezekiel Project also assisted with the collaboration.

Donors who supported the project included Dominion Energy Ohio: Hola - Latino Resource Group, First Moravian Church of Dover, the Hugh A. Fraser Fund, ProVia, The Branch Church at New Philadelphia, The Kimble Foundation, Tuscarawas County Public Library Friends of the Library, Tuscarawas Valley Heritage Inc., Pop and a number of anonymous donors.

The mural is on permanent display at First Drive Northwest at West High Avenue.