The Spirit Within
Artist: Hailey Marmolejo, Ashleigh Garza
Date created: 2023
“The Spirit Within” is a massive 18' x 155' mural and was developed as part of the Department of Arts & Culture’s Public Art Program by collaborative artists Ashleigh Garza and Hailey Marmolejo in coordination with San Anto Cultural Arts.
The mural features a fantastical nighttime landscape that thematically explores and pays homage to the history of women and their work at Historic Market Square, which was determined through a series of community engagement sessions as part of the Department’s Public Art Process. The mural features women donning luchador masks, native plants, constellations, and magical alebrijes (mythical creatures represented through Mexican folk-art sculptures which can be found throughout Market Square). Every element incorporated in the mural serves as a reminder that the location’s rich multicultural history is imbued with feminine connotation.
“Historic Market Square has been a playground for creativity and community for centuries,” said artists Garza and Marmolejo in a joint statement. “We wanted to interpret this exuberance by making the alebrijes of Market Square come to life, while highlighting women, the history of San Antonio and the city’s multicultural population. The title of this mural speaks to the spirit of hope, love, strength, and resilience that we all embody.”
As detailed by the artists, alebrijes and other characters featured in the mural include:
Garza /Water Bird - Honors the Payaya creation story of Yanaguana (the San Antonio River). According to the story, a garza bird flew into a blue hole that was occupied by a blue panther. The blue panther chase the water bird out of the hole, and as it flies out, the water from the blue hole spreads from the feathers of its wings and blesses the land with the Yanaguana River.
Panther - Feminine representation of the blue panther that chased out the water bird.
Coyote - Native American symbol of creativity.
Scorpion - Symbol of protection.
Fish - Representation of the flow of life, spiritual change and motion.
Giraffe - These elegant creatures are said to be divine messengers of this world.
Birds - Representation of San Antonio’s Chili Queens in mystical alebrije form.
Praying Mantis - Thought to have connection to the spiritual world.
Monarch Butterfly - Representative of Mexican culture, migration and ancestral souls returning to visit for Día de los Muertos.
Armadillo - Known as the little armored one, serves as a Native American symbol of protection and guarded disposition, like a mother.
Payaya native woman reaching into the water.
Cat Woman - Symbol of mixed cultures.
Tejana woman in a traditional Mexican dress and cowgirl boots.
This mural is part of a multi-year Zona Cultural Public Art effort, supported by 2017 Bond program funds, with the goal of connecting the City’s Westside to San Pedro Creek. Additional public artworks to be created in Zona Cultural will include sculptures at corners of Frio and Commerce Streets, a mural on the back of Plaza de Armas building facing San Pedro Creek, and sculptures near the Santa Rosa and Commerce Street intersection.
San Anto Cultural Arts Production & Installation Team:
Ashleigh Valentine Garza, Lead Muralist
Hailey Marmolejo, Lead Muralist
Rosalinda Alvarez Turuda, Assistant Muralist
Doroteo Garza, Assistant Muralist
Malachy McKinney, Assistant Muralist
Bryan Mancera, Installation
Joe De La Cruz, Installation
Domeinic Jimenez, Installation
Francisco Garcia, Installation