Tree of Life

Felipe Adame, Guillermo Aranda, Arturo Roman, 1974
Renovated, 1992: Guillermo Aranda, Guillermo Rosete, Felipe Adame, Vidal Aguirre

……..The Tree of Life is a beautiful example of the successful process of mural renovation in Chicano Park. Due to the position of the pylon, the bright colors are bathed in shadows throughout the day.
……..The Tree of Life is dedicated to students throughout the stages of their lives. One side portrays students from grammar, middle, and high schools, while the other side portrays students from colleges and universities, dressed in graduation robes and holding their diplomas. A reclining skeleton is visually balanced by human figures climbing out of the earth, referring to the struggle between life and death.
…….. A second interpretation of the skeleton refers to the myth of Quetzalcoatl and his journey to the underworld to retrieve the bones of past human races. From the buried bones of the ancestors, a new race will emerge.
……..The central section of the horizontal composition presents a fetus, flanked by the profiles of man and woman. Above the fetus is the swastika, symbolizing transformation, the growth process. Below the fetus is a variation of the Aztec ollin symbol to emphasize the transformation in life.
……..The fetus is nurtured by the tree of life, growing within an idyllic landscape. A mother breast-feeds her baby; children play in a cool, refreshing stream; primal man and woman float over their paradise. The landscape itself may refer to Tamoanchan, the mythical place of origin where Quetzalcoatl buried the ancestors’ bones. “In the Central Mexican codices, Tamoanchan is represented by a flowering cleft tree emitting blood.” The tree supporting the fetus does have new growth upon its branches; and the vertical line of dark brown below the ollin symbol could be viewed as a cleft within the tree. Tamoanchan, an ancient Mexican Eden or paradise, can be found within Chicano Park.