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Diego
Rivera is a famous Mexican artist that used his painting to express and reflect
the lives of the Mexican people. He was born on December 8, 1886 and died on
November 24, 1957, during his early years of painting he traveled to Europe
where he became good at Cubism. In 1914, the Mexican Revolution inspired Rivera
to paint murals that spoke about the political events happening in Mexico. He
wanted his art to show the lives of the people and the working class, to tell
their stories through his art. The History of Mexico mural took Rivera 6 years
to complete. He started in 1929 and ended in 1935, this was also Rivera’s last
piece of art that was made.

My
first impression of the mural is that it is colorful. The colors are vibrant
making the mural eye-catching. There are a lot of different people in the
picture. Some are soldiers, farmers, and priests. The different people show to
me that all of them have played individual roles in the Mexican History. Looking
at it makes it seem as if everything is happening all at once in the same
setting. When looking at the mural, you can see that it tells many different
stories. Such as fighting, people seem to be arguing, others look hurt. There’s
a lot of meaning to it considering that it takes up 3 walls. First looking at
it, it’s very overwhelming. It is difficult to try to pick one certain spot and
start there because then you get distracted looking at everything else that’s
going on in the picture. It’s hard to try to focus on one specific piece when
there are so many other pieces that stand out. The mural overall stands out but
there are certain parts that stand out more than others.

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In
the center of the mural, the middle, it shows what seems to be a lot of war
going, violence. At the bottom it shows Hernan Cortes defeating the Aztecs. Cortes had help contribute to the
conquering of Cuba, and once that happened he set out on more adventures. He
made his way to Tenochtitlan, which at the time was the Aztec capital. But
before he made it to Tenochtitlan, he had conquered other cities along the way.
He also became allies with the Tlaxcalans. The Tlaxcalans later helped Cortes
because they had a strong hate towards the Aztecs because the Aztecs would
sneak into their towns and take people to sacrifice. When Cortes made it to
Tenochtitlan the Aztecs befriended him, but Cortes had other plans. Cortes and
his men took the Aztec leader, Montezuma hostage. They eventually killed him,
and the Aztecs attacked Cortes and his men. A fight then broke out for 3 months
and in 1521 Cortes defeated the Aztecs and conquered Tenochtitlan. This is
important because Cortes took over the Aztec Empire and he put an end to Aztec
culture. It impacted many people and many Aztecs.

When Cortes conquered the Aztec Empire he
took in whatever Indians that were left and made them slaves. In the picture
you can see some Indians working for the Spanish. The reason the Aztec culture
ended was because the Indians were forced to read and write in Spanish. They
were taught to be Spaniards even if they weren’t or didn’t want to. They then
passed it on to generations and therefore, ending the Aztec culture. The
Indians made the Spaniards weapons, buildings and provided food. Once the
Indians became slaves they no longer made sacrifices. They believed that the
reason the sun would rise every day was because they sacrificed people, and if
they didn’t the sun wouldn’t come up. This was a main reason that others didn’t
like the Indians, because they would sneak into their towns and kidnap people
to sacrifice. Once Indians became slaves they were forced to change their
religion and become Catholics. Another reason why the culture failed was
disease. The Aztecs carried many diseases that caught up with them and they
eventually died. This just goes more into depth about the fall of the Aztec
Empire and how Cortes conquering it. They were able to take back land that
should have belonged to them in the first place. The mural goes on to express
emotionally the terror and conquest during this time.

In the top middle there is a red banner
that sticks out because there are words written across it. The words are
“Tierra y Libertad”, meaning Land and Liberty. The poor Mexicans wanted to take
back their land. Emiliano Zapata lead a peasant rebellion in Mexico in 1910. He
formed a plan, Plan de Ayala, which consisted of 15 points. To summarize all 15
points, Zapata wanted to give the poor the land that they had the right to.
Most Mexican citizens at the time owned little or no land, and Zapata wanted to
give them the land they deserved. Zapatistas were the people who followed and
stood behind Zapata during his rebellion. They stood with his beliefs and
wanted to get their land back. Zapata died before this was made possible, but
the Zapatistas made sure his plan followed through. In 1920, the Zapatistas
were able to obtain power and with that they established some of the plans that
Zapata had envisioned for them. This impacted a lot of the poor people for they
were able to fight back with the help of Zapata and they gained their land
back. Even though Zapata died before anything could happen he started a fight
that the people finished off for themselves, as well for Zapata. Diego Rivera
with the banner “Tierra y Libertad” showed us the fight and struggle of the
history behind it, it was important because it showed to us the struggle the
Mexican people went through.

In the center of the picture there is an
eagle holding some sort of blue and red tail thing in its mouth. The meaning
behind this goes back to when the Aztec Empire was conquered, and the Aztec
culture came to an end. Many of the people didn’t agree or like what the Aztecs
believed in. They believed that sacrificing someone was the reason the sun came
up, and if they didn’t the sun wouldn’t rise the next day. To summarize, the
Aztecs weren’t liked by many people and the downfall of the Empire made the
people content. Cortes was a fighter and he fought to get the land that
belonged to him and his people. The eagle represents a fighter, and in its
mouth, is a serpent. The serpent symbolizes the Aztecs. The eagle has it in its
mouth because the eagle is basically “killing” the Aztec. After the downfall,
the Aztec culture came to an end. The serpent in the mouth shows that the eagle
won the battle and the serpent is no more. They use this symbol as the symbol
of Mexico because if Cortes didn’t conquer the Empire that land wouldn’t be
there’s. It also symbolizes strength, that the people fight for what is there’s
and they don’t give up until they win. This part of the mural represents the strength
the Mexican people had to conquer and win.

          My first thought looking
at the mural was color, as mentioned before. I didn’t have a full understanding
of what was going on. Everything seemed to be everywhere and happening all at
once. I wasn’t sure where to look to and where I should begin. I also struggled
a bit with trying to get the meaning that was behind every little piece that
was going on in the picture. As I was doing some research and looking into the
background more, I learned a lot about the history of Mexico. I’ve heard about
Hernan Cortes before, but I wasn’t sure exactly why he was important. Reading
into what he did for his people, it was a brave thing. He had a plan to conquer
the Empire and that’s exactly what he did. He fought a battle for 3 months
until he won. This shows that he was a very brave man and fought for what he
wanted, and gave back to his people. The same goes for Emiliano Zapata, he
wanted to give back to the poor what they deserved. Although he didn’t make it
to see it happen, the people continued to fight the battle he had started. In
the end they won, and they couldn’t have done it without the help of Zapata.
The piece I examined was only one part of the wall, there’s three parts all
together. I can only imagine what more stories are on the other two. Diego
Rivera made this mural to inform and remind people that Mexico had its
hardships, but despite all the hardships a lot of good came out of it. And his
mural tells the story of just that.

Overall the mural represents the struggles,
battles, sufferings and conquest that the Mexican people had to encounter. The
history of Mexico goes in depth in the mural, although some things stood out to
me more than the rest I really enjoyed learning about the history. When first
viewing the mural, it is hard to focus on one piece because all of the pieces
were important to the Mexican people. I found it amazing that Diego Rivera used
art to represent and tell the story of the Mexican people. 

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