clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

In Joliet, an Aztec goddess watches over new mural at Spanish Community Center

Sonryze — one of three artists collaborating on the unfinished work — hopes it will be ‘the antidote to a year of negativity’ for those who view it.

The Aztec deity of corn Xilonen is the centerpiece of a new mural by artists Sonryze, Rahmaan Statik and Erick “Roho” Garcia at Joliet’s Spanish Community Center, 309 N. Eastern Ave.
The Aztec deity of corn Xilonen is the centerpiece of a new mural by artists Sonryze, Rahmaan Statik and Erick “Roho” Garcia at Joliet’s Spanish Community Center, 309 N. Eastern Ave.
Provided

Standing about 30 feet high, a female figure holding bushels of multicolored corn and a headdress of sun rays now watches over Joliet’s Spanish Community Center, 309 N. Eastern Ave.

Xilonen or Chicomecoatl — her name — is the Aztec deity of maize and the centerpiece of a new mural collaboration among Joliet artists Sonryze and Erick “Roho” Garcia and Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik.

Sonryze, who painted Xilonen, chose her as the centerpiece to represent one of the core features of the Spanish Community Center — its food pantry. The symbolism of maize and corn also pays tribute to the importance of corn in the Midwest, he says.

A closeup of Xilonen, also called Chicomecoatl, the Aztec deity of maize, painted by Joliet artist Sonryze. The four-handed figure holds bushels of multicolored corn while wearing a pearl necklace, with some pearls made from our solar system’s planets.
A closeup of Xilonen, also called Chicomecoatl, the Aztec deity of maize, painted by Joliet artist Sonryze. The four-handed figure holds bushels of multicolored corn while wearing a pearl necklace, with some pearls made from our solar system’s planets.
Provided

The four-handed figure holds bushels of red, yellow and purple corn. A beaded necklace made of different planets in our solar system sits atop a dress reminiscent of outer space.

Flanking the towering figure is the “Council of Grandmothers,” five women “representing the racial makeup” of the far southwest suburb and the theme of unity in diversity, Sonryze says. They represent the peoples of Africa and the Indigenous peoples of North America, Mexico, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

“Mother Africa” — the figure with the green head wrap painted by Rahmaan Statik — showcases nature mixed with cultural icons of Africa like Kente cloth and a Pan African red, black and green motif.
“Mother Africa” — the figure with the green head wrap painted by Rahmaan Statik — showcases nature mixed with cultural icons of Africa like Kente cloth and a Pan African red, black and green motif.
Provided

Statik says the women also represent “the ancestors, motherly elders and lived life,” with a particular focus given to the woman, seen in a green head wrap, Statik calls “Mother Africa.”

One corner above the woman features an erupting volcano and lightning atop a pattern of “geometric tessellation” to show “the force of nature with math and man made reality,” Statik says.

Native American, Southeast Asian and Eastern European elders — some still unfinished — painted by Rahmaan Statik and Sonryze at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
Native American, Southeast Asian and Eastern European elders — some still unfinished — painted by Rahmaan Statik and Sonryze at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
Provided

Next to her earring is a miniature representation of the Milky Way.

Patterns based on the Kente cloth of Ghana lie atop a city with the sun rising, a “fictitious Africa” combining famous landmarks to “show the vastness of Africa all in one spot,” Statik says.

Joliet artist Sonryze works on the scenes of Cahokia — a once-bustling Native American metropolis in southern Illinois, part of a new mural in progress at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
Joliet artist Sonryze works on the scenes of Cahokia — a once-bustling Native American metropolis in southern Illinois, part of a new mural in progress at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
Provided

Each figure is accompanied by a landscape.

Like for the images of Cahokia, a once-sprawling Native American metropolis in southern Illinois. The pyramids of Central America and shadows of Buddhist temples of Cambodia lie below the rest of the “elders.”

The early stages of the jam session portion of the mural — painted by Erick “Roho” Garcia — at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
The early stages of the jam session portion of the mural — painted by Erick “Roho” Garcia — at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
Provided

This section of the mural is set to be contrasted with a jam session — like a mirror image but featuring grandfathers, painted by Garcia, the center’s artist-in-residence.

Artist Rahmaan Statik says working on the Spanish Community Center mural was “an honor . . . years in the making.”
Artist Rahmaan Statik says working on the Spanish Community Center mural was “an honor . . . years in the making.”
Provided

The mural is about 75% finished — delayed by weather and scheduling conflicts. Sonryze says he’s expecting it will be done by early June.

Statik, who recently finished a visual tribute to the rapper MF DOOM, says working with Sonryze was something “years in the making,” saying, “It’s an honor to paint with my friend and comrade.”

Sonryze, born and raised in Joliet, curated the mural on the side of the Spanish Community Center in his hometown. Once a member and former employee, his work now adorns the back walls of the building.
Sonryze, born and raised in Joliet, curated the mural on the side of the Spanish Community Center in his hometown. Once a member and former employee, his work now adorns the back walls of the building.
Provided

Sonryze, who was born and grew up in Joliet, worked at the Spanish Community Center after high school.

All three artists attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago at different times.

Erick “Roho” Garcia is the artist-in-residence at the Spanish Community Center and one of three artists behind the new mural.
Erick “Roho” Garcia is the artist-in-residence at the Spanish Community Center and one of three artists behind the new mural.
Provided

Sonryze hopes the mural helps people get a sense of healing after a tumultuous year. He calls it “the antidote to a year of negativity. I wanted people to look at it and see themselves in it.”

Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals

Murals and Mosaics

Mural Mafia brings its graffiti-oriented take on public art to Chicago

Murals and Mosaics

‘Meeting of Styles’ brought muralists together en masse on the Southeast Side

Murals and Mosaics

Graffiti art crew hopes Avengers superhero mural inspires kids on the West Side

View all stories in Murals and Mosaics