The Cesar Chavez Monument
The exterior niches that now stand at San Jose University were created into mosaics in the SPARC gallery. A ton of glass (500 lbs) was specially ordered from Cuernavaca, Mexico, the original factory that produced Siqueiros’s mosaic tile. Each exterior niche stands 4ft X 9ft tall and is a representation of Dolores Huerta, Gandhi, and a female and male farm worker from Salinas Valley.
The arch’s main mural depicts a contemplative Chavez over the fields of California, where the great boycotts took place. In the sky, Chavez’s meeting with Robert Kennedy during his great fast (accompanied by his wife and his mother) is highlighted, as fasting was a cornerstone to his philosophy of non-violence. Also in the sky, the virgin Guadalupe is also blessing his actions. Finally, a calaca (skeleton-skull) is depicted to represent the deaths resulting from the pesticide clouds being sprayed in the fields.
“A word as to the education of the heart.
We don’t believe that this can be imparted through books,
it can only be imparted through the loving touch of the teacher.”
César E. Chávez
The concept of the Monument is to commemorate Chavez through his ideals rather than to create a traditional European approach to a fallen soldier or important personage through a bust or bronze statute. It is not his personality that is to be remembered but his ideals and beliefs carried out in his actions to improve the conditions of the campesino, which inspired so many to join his efforts to achieve social justice. A key element to the monument is to teach the next generation how to choose to live a life in the center of your values and beliefs as Cesar Chavez did. Modeled on a Mayan corbelled arch with rounded mission arches, this site pays tribute to Chavez’s respective Spanish and indigenous roots. This arch is placed at the opposite site of the small plaza to necessitate pedestrian passage through its opening which will encompass the viewer with images of Chavez’s life inside the arch.