Orozco Elementary Academy of Fine Arts and Sciences façade, 2000
1940 West 18th Street
Pilsen’s Mexican-American population has contributed greatly to the public art of the neighborhood. Francisco Mendoza (1958-2012), known for leading the mosaic project at Peter Cooper Elementary Dual Language Academy (1624 West 19th Street) , decorated this school’s façade with sports figures, educational themes, Mexican culture and Mesoamerican gods. After his death from cancer in 2012, fellow artists spoke to Chicagotalks.org about how his work continues to teach those in the community. Muralist Hector Duarte noted, “During the late 20th century muralist movement, Mexican-American murals faced the streets. In Mexico, murals were more commonly placed in public buildings and schools. The Mexican government promoted muralists while the movement in the United States was driven by the artists themselves.” Cesáreo Moreno, National Museum of Mexican Art visual arts director and chief curator commented, “The Chicano, or Mexican-American, communities really embraced the whole idea of murals to portray ourselves, to celebrate our community, to not forget our heroes and those things that are culturally of value to our community,”
Named after José Clemente Orozco (1883 –1949) a Mexican social realist painter, the school is known for its fine arts program. Mural painting is included in the after-school programs.