Islander Alumna Mayra Zamora, Teen Campers Design New Mural at Garcia Center

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The expression of creativity and imagination often can’t be contained by a standard piece of paper, and sometimes, a larger-than-life canvas can express more than just art.

This summer, Islander alumna and Chicana artist Mayra Zamora ’10, ’14 led a group of local teens in the creation of the El Jardin mural that is now displayed near the garden of the Antonio E. Garcia Arts & Education Center, a Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi affiliate. The mural, which is painted against a black backdrop, includes vibrant designs inspired by the folk-art tradition of the Otomi people of central Mexico, which favors vibrant colors, and unique floral and animal designs

“Awhile back, my primo gifted me the coolest shoes filled with an Otomi pattern and that was my inspiration,” Zamora said. 

Zamora said she began working at the Garcia Center as an afterschool tutor in 2011 and has continued to work at the center ever since. Zamora’s service to the Garcia Center made her the perfect choice to serve as mural instructor for the Teens Building for Tomorrow (TBT) camp, according to Esmeralda Herrera-Teran, Garcia Center Director of Academic Success.

TBT camp works in conjunction with the Very Important Kids (VIK) camp. As VIK campers aged out of the program, Herrera-Teran said, they voiced their desire to return, thus creating the new camp. At TBT camp, participants between the ages of 13-17 learn about teamwork, communication, mental health, financial literacy, and social skills.

“Ms. Zamora works well with our teens, and they enjoy her teaching methods,” Herrera-Teran said. “She has brought them so much inspiration.”

The mural creation process allowed Zamora to educate the students on in the importance of collaboration and problem-solving. Additionally, creating the mural from scratch enhanced confidence in the teens and helped them build bonds within the safe space of the Garcia Center, Zamora noted.

“Reconnecting with two of my returning students, both grown and much matured, and creating special moments with the new students was my favorite part of the process,” Zamora said.


I want members of the Westside and visitors to see that the Antonio E. Garcia Arts & Education Center celebrates Chicano and Latino art, which is ultimately the true origins of the center.

Mayra Zamora '10, '14

This summer marked the first year 15-year-old Sophia Chapa participated in TBT camp, and the first time she’s worked on a large-scale art project.

“I learned that there is a lot of hard work that goes into painting murals,” Chapa said. “I loved Ms. Zamora’s style of teaching because she didn’t make us feel incapable of doing anything. She always assured us that we were doing a good job.”

Zamora said El Jardin mural is the beginning of the artistry that will be added to the Garcia Center’s landscape. She and her colleague Eugene Soliz are currently designing a mural to honor the building’s namesake, Antonio E. Garcia, which they plan to unveil during Hispanic Heritage Month.

“I want members of the Westside and visitors to see that the center celebrates Chicano and Latino art, which is ultimately the true origins of the center,” Zamora said. “The vision had always been to incorporate murals into the landscape of the center. After all, Mr. Garcia himself was a celebrated muralist known as ‘The Michelangelo of South Texas.’ This new mural is colorful, full of life, inviting, and representative of pura cultura!”