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Sacramento 'Poderosas' art highlights Chicano activism, culture

Nine Latina and Chicana women were chosen to be portrayed in murals painted for the 'Sacramento Poderosas Mural Project' that will be exhibited across the city.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two "poderosas" — strong women — are for the first time seeing themselves on a mural immersed in Chicano and Latino symbolisms over a wall of vibrant turquois paint.

Margarita Berta-Ávila and Alma Elizabeth López Flores were among the nine women selected to be the subjects of the "Sacramento Poderosas Mural Project."

The bright panels of color and culture are dedicated to preserving the history of Chicana and Latina women in the Sacramento Valley.

"Alma is standing right next to me in the mural, and she was a student that worked with me. She was a student organizer, I'm a faculty organizer with our union," Berta-Ávila told ABC10. "To see what she's doing is another full circle. To be able to stand next to her in this mural depicting it was an honor for me."

López Flores, the executive director of Brown Issues, said one of the reasons she said yes to the mural is because some of the young women she works with nominated her and she wanted to show they could love unconditionally.

Just as the poderosas are diverse, so are the murals striking symbolisms.

"A lot of the symbolism really come from the women themselves on how they wanted to be represented, how they see themselves," said lead muralist Ruby Chacon. "The way I was taught at the university getting my degree in fine art it's very individual, you know, capital capitalist driven, but murals and public art is more a collective vision where you are getting the feedback of other people and you're translating through visual images on how to really tell those stories in a dignified way." 

Different countries and cultures are represented in their clothing and in the stacks of books showing colors of different Latin American national flags.

Berta-Ávila, a Sacramento State University professor of education, said she hopes the murals counter images hypersexualizing women, particularly Black and Brown women.

"A lot of that hyper sexualization is also issues of power and issues of objectifying. When you objectify, you attempt to control," she said. "You attempt to control what's in front of you and say, 'This is how we are going to see you, this is how we're going to position you and this is going to allow others to treat you and position you in that way'."

Poderosas say the mural takes back the power of women showing how they want to be portrayed— giving other women courage.

For more information on the Sacramento Poderosas Mural Project, click here to visit their website and donation page.

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