Mural seeks to capture the experience of relocated Latin American people

Nationally known artist Justin Favela’s mural, Al Aire Libre, is now on display at the CityWay Gallery located in the Alexander Hotel in Stadium Village.

A multidisciplinary artist, Favela is known for grand murals of desert landscapes, sculptures of lowriders, and gigantic foods all created in the style of colossal piñatas. Al Aire Libre, which translates to “Free Flight”, is an immersive mural featuring national birds from several of the countries composing the Latin American diaspora in Indianapolis.

These symbols of national pride are set against a dramatic, multicolored background inspired by an Indianapolis sunset. Seamlessly blending symbology from Latin America with the Circle City, Favela connects physically distant spaces and personifies an experience many Latin American people feel when relocating.

The mural will be on display through Jan. 30, said curator Mike Barclay of 60 on Center. Barclay said Favela’s visual language blends inspiration from his personal heritage and upbringing with references from art history and pop culture.

For Favela, the craft aesthetics of the piñata is a conscious decision to express his heritage. “The piñata was the perfect thing because a lot of Mexican culture and symbols and traditions have been appropriated by people in the United States. The piñata was the perfect shortcut to say so many things in a fast gesture.” Its use creates a dialogue about cultural appropriation and the commodification of what is considered truly “authentic Mexican” or exotified by outsiders.

Favela is also involved in a group exhibition in New York City. Recent solo exhibitions were featured in Fort Worth, Tex., and North Adams, Mass. His installations have been commissioned by museums including the Denver Art Museum in Colorado and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. He is the recipient of the 2018 Alan during LGTBIQ Award for International Artist. Favela hosts two culture-oriented podcasts, “Latinos Who Lunch” and “The Art People Podcast.”

PHOTO ABOVE: The mural Al Aire Libre will be on display at the Alexander Hotel through Jan. 30.