Five things to know about Mariachi Plaza Station future artwork by Sonia Romero

We’re going behind the scenes this week into the creative process of Sonia Romero, the artist who is creating Hecho a Mano—a soon-to-be iconic mural for the concourse level of Mariachi Plaza Station.

Sonia Romero stands on a scaffold to paint details on a hand near the top of the 12-foot-tall mural.    

Read on to learn more about the artist’s creative process and to get a glimpse of Hecho a Mano in the making.

•With a strong interest in studying the shape, history and beauty of hands and the sacred objects they hold, Romero was inspired to create a pattern of hands holding objects to provide visitors a glimpse into the rich and unexpected stories of people from Boyle Heights, the neighborhood surrounding the station.

•To highlight the stories and histories of Latinx, Jewish and Japanese people who have lived in Boyle Heights, Romero shows community struggle and resilience through objects of significance. Visitors will find an eclectic mix of objects that intertwine Romero’s personal connection to Boyle Heights with those of individuals from the neighborhood.

•Like other Metro artworks, Romero’s artwork proposal was selected by a community-based panel following extensive outreach and an open call process. Her deep ties to the neighborhood helped her hold meaningful interactive community workshops at the weekly farmer’s market at Mariachi Plaza Station and Self Help Graphics & Art. For each workshop, Romero invited people to have their hands photographed holding an object that they felt define their connection to the neighborhood. Romero translated photographs of the hands holding objects, taken by long-time collaborator Rafael Cardenas, into line drawings she used to create delicate paper-cut pieces of the objects.

•The painterly brush strokes Romero used to create the hands contrast with the careful, precise line work of the delicate hand cut paper. The painterly style of the hands underscore the playfulness of the title Hecho a Mano which translates to “hand-made” in English.

•A landscape of monarch butterflies floating on top of a vibrant turquoise background is reminiscent of colorful oil cloth — a familiar decorative staple found in many Latinx homes and businesses. The monarch butterflies are a nod to underlying themes of migration and visually unite the hands and objects against the backdrop of the mural.

For more about artist Sonia Romero’s studio process and the creation of Hecho a Mano, enjoy a sneak peek video that will premiere as part of Self Help Graphics & Art’s 47th Annual Día de los Muertos Virtual Celebration, held Sunday, November 1 at 4:00 p.m. on the Self Help Graphics You Tube channel. Experience the Celebration, which also includes activities throughout the Día de los Muertos Virtual Season such as the virtual #Ofrendas2020 exhibition and weekly virtual workshops, on the Self Help Graphics & Art website.

Plan ahead: On Wednesday, December 9,  Romero will also discuss the Mariachi Plaza Station mural as part of the Self Help Graphics & Art’s Artist Lab: In the Studio series — look for details closer to the date via Metro Art’s Instagram and Facebook.




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ADDENDUM: The “sneak peek” video we mentioned was featured as part of the Self Help Graphics & Art’s 47th Annual Día de los Muertos Virtual Celebration? You can enjoy it here now, too!

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