Christin-Apodaca The mural by El Paso artist Christin Apodaca (pictured) comes to life when using an augmented reality app.
Image courtesy Christin Apodaca.

Latinos have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, especially in Austin, where the mural is located, and in El Paso, the artist’s home town.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the Latino community, it’s important to remember and honor the lives lost to the deadly virus. 

This is the message El Paso, Texas artist Christin Apodaca wants to convey with her latest mural titled “Tu dolor es nuestro dolor,” which translates to “your pain is our pain.” The Day of the Dead-inspired mural is a tribute to the more than 200 Latino lives lost to COVID-19 in Austin’s Travis County. 

“I definitely want there to be a realization of how the Latino community has been affected, me being part of it as well,” Apodaca told The Americano. “People of color have been hit really hard.” 

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The augmented reality mural is displayed on the corner of 5th Street and Congress Avenue, just outside of the Mexic-Arte Museum in Downtown Austin, Texas. It features a crying woman wearing traditional Catrina makeup, surrounded by marigolds—the most recognizable flower associated with the Day of the Dead holiday—skulls, and a monarch butterfly. Monarch butterflies are believed to hold the spirits of the departed. 

Apodaca, 30, says her art often explores the relationship between human and organic, natural elements.

When visitors view the 15-by-30-foot mural through their phone while using an augmented reality app, the mural comes to life and the skulls animate, turning into monarchs and taking flight. 

Image courtesy of artist Christin Apodaca.

Next to the woman is the message “en Austin más de 200 de nuestros abuelos, abuelas, padres, madres, esposas, esposos, hijas, hijos, hermanas, hermanos, tías, tíos, primas, primos, amigos queridos, han sido víctimas del COVID-19.” 

Translated into English, it says: “In Austin, more than 200 of our grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, dear friends, have been victims of COVID-19.”

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As of November 5th, nearly 50% of all COVID-19-related deaths in Travis County were Latinos, according to recent Austin data. Latinos represent 16% of the 168,617 deaths related to the virus across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Latino community in Apodaca’s home of El Paso has also been strongly impacted by the virus. In El Paso, approximately 90% of COVID-19-related deaths are Latinos as of November 5th.

Apodaca traveled from El Paso to Austin to create the mural, which took her four days to complete. It was her first time painting in Austin. She used acrylic, water-based paint, and spray paint as her materials, and worked closely with the Mexic-Arte Museum, as well as the Austin Latino Coalition, which sponsored the mural. 

“They wanted it to be like when you see a billboard,” Apodaca said. “You read it, and it has a message that’s portrayed to you, and I came in with the visual to pair with what they wanted to say.” 

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Apodaca has only been painting murals for four years but says she plans to travel to more cities and paint larger works in the future, though the pandemic has slowed her ability to do so.  

“A lot of them got canceled,” she said. “Luckily with stuff opening up now, I was able to get back to those mural jobs that I had before.”

Like so many, Apodaca has personally felt the impact of the pandemic, losing some family friends to the virus earlier this year. She says she wanted her artwork to celebrate the lives of those no longer with us. 

“I feel like everyone at this point has someone that they know has been affected by it,” she said. “Instead of portraying something deeply sad, I wanted it to be more of a celebration of those lives that were lost. I feel like while they may no longer be here, they should still be remembered.”