Puebla, Ciudad Mural: Colectivo Tomate

Curator: Rafael Esquer
date: May 3, 2012
Categories: Experience Design, Illustration
Tags: Mexico, Mural, Social work
Photo: Paulina Macias. All Rights Reserved.
Ciencia by Mecamutanterio and Yazmin Córdova

I learned the history of Mexico by looking at murals. Mexican Muralism was, in addition to an artistic, political, and social movement, an educational revolution. Murals became a popular teaching method in public places where all people, regardless of their race or social class, had access to them.


Puebla: Ciudad Mural is a project by Colectivo Tomate, an independent Mexican group that seeks to rescue Mexican muralist heritage. They partner with graphic designers, architects, illustrators, painters and like-minded individuals to create new murals in the barrios of Puebla. 


The ultimate goal of Puebla: Ciudad Mural is to beautify the city, to empower its people and to rescue its historical identity. By doing this, the project also seeks to improve the living conditions in underserved neighborhoods, one at a time. Their first is Xanenetla.


Why Xanenetla? This particular neighborhood is in critical condition. It is a low-income community. It is filled with abandoned buildings and decay. And it has become a dangerous zone, with its youth at risk. Yet Colectivo Tomate recognizes its rich heritage: because of its isolation in Puebla, Xanenetla has kept many rich traditions intact. The murals will help preserve their history, capture their present and project a positive vision for their future. Together, art and the community will bring about social change.


Puebla: Cuidad Mural has finished 32 murals to date. The goal is to complete 52 by the end of this year. All of the murals have been co-created by a guest designer, local artists, volunteers, sponsors and the families of the houses where the mural will ‘live.’ The inspiration for the design of the murals must come from conversations between the designer and the families. He or she meets with all members, listens to their stories, hopes, fears and dreams. The final design must portray the identity of both the families and the barrio. How is that for a visual communication challenge?


Photo: Vica Amuchástegui. All Rights Reserved.
5 de Mayo by Mariana Luna and Felipe Chamorro

Photo: Miriam Castillo. All Rights Reserved.
Oasis by Lina Puerta

Photo: Colectivo Tomate. All Rights Reserved.
Biek Fek and Ana Maria Selman Soancatl working on a collective mural

Photo: Colectivo Tomate. All Rights Reserved.
Artist and community collaboration

Photo: Paulina Macias. All Rights Reserved.
El Capullo by Colectivo Tomate and Giovanni Carlo Marasco

Photo: Paulina Macias. All Rights Reserved.
The Japan Dreams II by Dafree Morales and Aldo Lopez

Photo: Paulina Macias. All Rights Reserved.
Untitled by Cesar López and Melina Gomez

Photo: Paulina Macias. All Rights Reserved.
Untitled by Aro and Daniel Borre

Photo: Miriam Castillo. All Rights Reserved.
Ciudad Azul by Alexis Duque

Photo: Miriam Castillo. All Rights Reserved.
La Chingona by Miriam Castillo

Photo: Alejandra Huerta. All Rights Reserved.
Constelación Sigan Juntos by Alejandra Huerta

On my next trip to Mexico, I’ll make sure to visit Xanenetla. I want to witness firsthand the transformative power of good design.


As a guest curator for this blog, I hope that projects like this one will inspire us to use what we do as designers to improve our own communities, even on a small scale. All we need is an idea and the commitment to make it happen. As Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

  • http://pursuitofeverything.com/ ajleon

    This is amazing. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • Alexis Duque

    Thanks for the article Rafael!

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