My name is Julio Mendoza and I’m a Denver artist who migrated from Cd, Juarez Mexico in 2001 when I was 11 years old. We weren’t poor, we had a house, and my dad had a job in “Las maquilas,” a factory. Juarez was known for violence and the violence against women was very high. Fearing that anything will happen to my mother or my sister or any of us, my dad decided it was time for a new life and to migrate to the U.S.
It took me several years to accept my new situation and understand we weren't going to go back to Mexico. I left my two best friends back in Juarez. When you're just a kid all you care about are your best friends and the joy of playing outside in the streets, in the dirt and on top of the house rooftops. That can never be replaced. Not to mention the cultural shock, the struggle of learning a new language and making new friends. As a child it's not easy to understand all our parents had to go through to migrate to another country, but neither is it easy for a parent to understand all a child goes through either.
This mural represents the plight of every migrant child. The kid is on his way to a new and unknown destination, flying over dahlias which represent change and strength on this new journey. But he is not alone, he is accompanied by monarch butterflies, which are a symbol of migration. He’s not letting go of his most precious toys, his memories, or his home, “Su Hogar,” a place where you live and feel safe, calm and peaceful.
The jaguar mask represents the boy’s culture but it also represents strength, ferocity, and courage. He wears this mask to try to fit in and hide his fears, feeling uncomfortable and insecure in this place where there are mountains and the people speak English.
Juls understands firsthand the trauma that some children experience during that journey. When Juls left Mexico, he lost a childhood filled with play, friendship, and adventure. Despite these losses, Juls chose to create a mural depicting a spirit of courage and hope. When asked what he wanted people to take away from his mural, Juls replied: “healing.” Juls has personally experienced the role that art can play in healing children and adults alike. We hope that Juls’ mural will inspire reflection, curiosity, and healing. Juls was selected from 96 applications in a global call for submissions.
The Center for Bioethics and the Humanities at CU Anschutz is proud to be located in Aurora, Colorado, the most diverse city in our beautiful state. One in five of our Aurora neighbors was born in another country. No wonder 160 languages are spoken in our community and we have arguably the best ethnic cuisine on the front range!
When unaccompanied children arrive to Colorado, they are highly likely to be placed in or near Aurora. Indeed, the top five counties receiving unaccompanied children in Colorado include Arapahoe, Denver, Adams, El Paso, and Weld. While we celebrate and value the richness of living in a multi-cultural community vibrant with New Americans, we also understand that there are unique challenges our neighbors, patients, clients, and colleagues face. These include higher rates of childhood trauma prior to, during, or after arrival to the United States, barriers to healthcare and other services, as well as economic insecurity.
The Fly to Heal mural by Juls Mendoza is intended to honor children arriving to the United States and to celebrate their strength and resilience. Fly to Heal is part of our 2023 Testimony programming amplifying the voices of children in migration. The artwork and events organized in the Fulginiti Pavilion this year are intended to bear witness to the shared obligations we have to respect the rights of these newly arrived children and their families. Whether providing medical services to patients, ethical consults to clients, teaching our students, or sharing arts and humanities with our community both on and off campus, we are committed to celebrating the inherent humanity that unites us all.
The exhibit, Art as Advocacy, was on display in the Art Gallery and Lobby of the Fulginiti Pavilion through February 5, 2024.
Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities
13080 E. 19th Ave.
Aurora, CO 80045
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Monday-Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm for CU-AMC badged personnel.
Open to the public Monday-Friday from 11:30am-5:00PM.
Read the May 23 article, Fly to Heal’ Mural Takes Off to Amplify the Voices of Children in Migration, by Matthew Hastings in CU Anschutz News.
Read the Denverite June 20 article, Westwood's Juls Mendoza latest mural sheds light on the experiences of migrant children.