When Salina Almanzar ’13 was selected to paint a mural addressing the pandemic, one message came to mind.
“Cuide de tu mente,” said Almanzar, photography technician at Franklin & Marshall.
The Spanish phrase—“Take care of your mind”—spans the border of her recent mural installation at Roberto Clemente Field in Lancaster.
Almanzar was among 10 local artists commissioned by Lancaster Public Art to convey COVID-19 messaging to the public. Two Dudes Painting, owned by Peter Barber ’90, provided mural panels, paint and installation.
Artists were asked to impart one of three themes: community, mental health, or social distancing.
Almanzar was instantly drawn to mental health. The topic, she said, carries a stigma among Lancaster’s many immigrant and Latinx communities.
“In my community, mental health is dealt with in secret. We're so busy dealing with immediate things. Something like mental health can be forgotten,” said Almanzar, who grew up in New York City and southeast Lancaster.
She opted for Spanish messaging to resonate with the city’s southeast neighborhoods.
“We have an overabundance of advice, but we haven't really talked about maintaining your mental health and anxiety levels,” Almanzar said.
Her vibrant mural quickly broaches the topic. Affixed to the baseball field fence, the 8-foot tall panels feature a woman with eyes closed and hands raised to her temple in contemplation. A golden disk illuminates the subject, a nod to Almanzar’s signature style.
“I tend to work using more Catholic and religious iconography, the central figure with the halo. For me, it’s about elevating normal people to positions of power or sainthood,” she said.
Community empowerment is a driving force behind Almanzar’s work. Her series of wheatpasted and painted neighborhood portraits on Water Street Mission’s warehouse wall was recognized by Americans for the Arts as one of the 50 most outstanding public artworks created in 2018.
“I'm used to making a big mural or big project with other people. This is the first time I've been able to create something large for the community, but not with the community,” Almanzar said.
While created in isolation, her mural will reach countless residents that access the ballpark for recreation and respite from stress.
As Almanzar guides students through the remaining spring semester, she reminds them that the art they create now could provide historical reference for future artists, scholars and writers.
“Now, we are in the position to archive and create content,” she said. “Somebody’s final assignment might be content for the future.”
When Salina Almanzar ’13, photography technician at her alma mater, was hired to paint a mural in a Lancaster neighborhood, she first considered the people who lived there.Read More