Fresno State graduate student honors Cesar Chavez with a new mural in Downtown


The mural can be found at Cesar E. Chavez Adult Education Center. (Cesar Maya/The Collegian)

By Cesar Maya, Reporter

As a first-generation high school, college and graduate student, Andrea Torres resonated with the ideas and principles of Cesar Chavez when making the new mural found in Downtown Fresno.

Torres, a Fresno State alumna, believes that the university is represented within the mural.

“I don’t believe that public art can exist without community. It has to be for the people, especially the people that surround it,” Torres said. “That’s just such a big way of respecting their space and helping to create that connection between the community and the works of art.”

On March 31, the mural featuring Cesar Chavez was unveiled in the parking lot of the Cesar E. Chavez Adult Education Center in Downtown Fresno. It consisted of a 3-week-long process and collaboration between English Learner Services, Extended Learning and the Fresno Adult School.

Torres was lead artist for the mural.

Andrea Torres receiving a Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislature Assembly during the unveiling of the mural. (Courtesy of Andrea Torres)

Torres worked directly with the students at Fresno Adult School and then connected with students in local high schools that are in the English Language Development (ELD) program, which is designed to advance the knowledge of English learners.

“It definitely was a very special connection as opposed to other projects I’ve worked on,” Torres said. “Throughout this mural, it was very important to visually show that transition of coming from a dark place, or just a place of the unknown, and transferring over into a new home like Fresno.”

For her, the beauty is in collaboration with much of the Fresno community. More than 30 people helped with the painting.

Teresa Zamora, Vice President of Fresno Adult School at Cesar Chavez Education Center and co-lead on the project believes that through the mural, the relentless advocacy of leaders both past and present are represented.

“I hope that viewers see themselves in the mural in one way or another,” says Zamora. “I also hope that they see courage; the kind needed to stand up to the inequities that marginalized people face.”

The location of the mural faces the street from the parking lot so all of Fresno can enjoy it while driving by, says Torres.

“If you look at it from the left, you have a night scene and there’s three figures climbing over the moon,” she says. “Then if you follow that through, it turns into a sunset scene with the Fresno skyline, so I think I just wanted to symbolize hope and growth as the most common themes.”

The number of painters eventually grew to a point where staff and family members would ask to paint on the wall. Torres wanted a direct connection between art and community.

Bob Nelson, a Fresno Unified superintendent, said he appreciated the mural and the meanings behind it.

“For more than 20 years, we have gathered to honor the legacy of Cesar Chavez; to make sure our students understand his immeasurable contributions,” Nelson said on the Fresno Unified website. “This year, it’s an especially wonderful celebration because we are unveiling a new mural that has special meaning.”

Torres will be leading a reentry program for the youth in the Juvenile Justice Campus which will teach the youth about the process of muralism. It is projected to be shown at M Street Studios in the Fall.