(Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel) (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel)

¡Pa’ que lo sepas! These Boricua-themed works of art found across Florida are colorful, striking, and thought-provoking.

With their bold images and strong statements, murals bring art into the public sphere, pero aún más que eso, they can be an effective tool of social emancipation, a powerful way to express a political point of view, o una hermosa manera de celebrar las raíces. Dramáticos, and often subliminally persuasive, they can have a strong impact, whether consciously or subconsciously, on the attitudes of passers-by.

Hope for Puerto Rico

Lives of Kids (MLK Mural) created the “Puerto Rico Hope Mural” to raise awareness to the urgent needs of people in Puerto Rico after the devastation caused on the island by Hurricane María in 2017. The striking mural was created during Art Basel and unveiled on Three Kings Day on Jan. 6, 2018. Created by Kyle Holbrook, an artist who works “across language, socio-economic, racial, religious or any barriers that can divide people,” this artwork can be experienced in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, a space known for its colorful murals.  

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A Hero for All Boricuas

In a historic win for racial equality and social justice, an Orlando school formerly known as Stonewall Jackson Middle was renamed last year in honor of Puerto Rican Hall of Fame baseball player Roberto Clemente. The collage outside the school’s gymnasium is emblazoned with Clemente’s phrase: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”

Known not only for his legendary status as a baseball player, but for his humanitarian legacy, Roberto Clemente inspired Neysa Millán, a local graphic artist who donated her talent to the project.

“I wanted to show the children, the community, that this is the type of person you should aspire to be,” Millán, who is of Puerto Rican descent, told El Sentinel Orlando.

A Show of Resistance

The Puerto Rican flag, with its red stripes, blue triangle, and lone white star, adorns the façade of La Placita, the popular restaurant located in Miami’s MiMo District. The brainchild of television celebrity Julián Gil and decorated Puerto Rican-born chef José Mendín, the iconic eatery serves up typical Puerto Rican fare with a side of controversy. That is because Puerto Rican artist Héctor Collazo’s work has been ordered removed from the building by the board that oversees the historic district where the building sits, citing the failure to request a permit. But spearheaded by Mendín and Gil, members of the community literally rallied ‘round the beautiful bandera mural, which to this day remains as a beacon of patria and hope for Boricuas.

Striking Trompe L’oeil

Born out of Art Republic 2017, this luminous artwork looks like a polished piece of metal, but in reality it is an ingenious—and skillful—use of paint that tricks the eye. Created by Puerto Rican artist Bik Ismo, the international street artist who has been creating unique pieces since 1993, the untitled work is part of the many murals displayed in Downtown Jacksonville.

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The Power of Symbols

This mural depicting the emblematic Florida gator displayed in Gainsville, Florida, is the work of Puerto Rican artist David Zayas, a graduate of the prestigious School of Plastic Arts in Puerto Rico. With his interesting use of symbols, Zayas includes animals in his works because “they help us grow as human beings.” In his collections, Zayas has included collaborations with artists like Bik Ismo, Damaris Cruz, Jorge Rito y Mario Ramírez Capellá.