Mundos de Mestizaje depicts more than 3,000 years of Hispanic history in the broadest sense, from Europe to Mesoamerica and into the American Southwest, illustrating the complexities and diversity of the Hispanic experience. The fresco is embedded with images that explore the historical connections among arts, sciences, language, migration and conflict along with a celebration of the creative cross-pollination of the cultural exchange of ideas.

The Artist and His Process

Mundos de Mestizaje is a mural by Frederico Vigil that is housed in the Torreón on the campus of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, Frederico Vigil grew up inspired by the rich history that has become the trademark of his art. He spent close to a decade on this monumental, 4,000 square foot work. Vigil first became involved with the ancient art of fresco during a visit and internship in the 1970s with Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff, who were apprentices to Diego Rivera

A group of respected New Mexico scholars were convened to create a list of significant themes and images which could represent Hispanic cultural history spanning the Iberian, Spanish, Mesoamerican and New Mexico heritage. Vigil then researched and studied the content in order to build and weave his own visual interpretation of the historical content and cultural layering which he eventually named Mundos de Mestizaje.

This is Frederico Vigil’s sketch of the three-foot-high Romanesque statue of Virgen de Guadalupe, Extremadura that would later become part of the fresco.

Buon fresco is a complex process requiring great precision and concentration by the artist. It involves numerous coats of plaster, various stages of drawing, precise mixing of pigments and application of paint onto wet plaster.

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Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroes, is regarded by many as the most important of the Islamic philosophers. Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (1135 AD-1204 AD) was born in Cordova, Spain. He was a Medieval Torah scholar and physician.

Our Lady of Guadalupe stands as one of the most important cultural and religious icons in Mexican and Mexican American history. This complex figure has played an integral role in the lives of her worshipers since her appearance almost 500 years ago.

Christopher Columbus' legacy is mixed and controversial. Some historians credit him for opening up the Americas for European colonization with the first of his four expeditions. There is, however, heated debate regarding the ongoing annual celebrations of Columbus’ accomplishments in various countries. His severe rule resulted in the depopulation of the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic); the exploitation and mistreatment of native peoples through forced labor, slavery, and deliberate mutilation; and the destruction of indigenous cultures through forced conversion to Catholicism.

Benito Juárez (1806-1872) was one of the world’s great civil rights leaders, as well as one of the most important political figures in Mexican history.

August 10, 1680 was the beginning of an 11-day siege resulting in the exile of the Spanish from New Mexico to El Paso del Norte.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was an extraordinary writer in the Baroque style. Her poetry, philosophical writings, and plays turned the literary and political world of her time on its head.

Juan de Oñate (1550-1626) established the first Spanish settlement in New Mexico. Oñate’s administration is most famously, or infamously, known for the Battle of Acoma Pueblo.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, regarded as one of the greatest of all Western writers, was born in Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, in 1547. Antonio de Nebrija (1441-1522) was a humanist and the author of Gramática Castellana (Grammar of the Castilian Language).

Santiago Matamoros is a reinterpretation of St. James, specific to the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. In this image, he is depicted at the Battle of Clavijo in 844 AD.

The philosophy behind Manifest Destiny was verbalized by journalist John Louis O’Sullivan, who stated that the U.S. possessed a divine right to expand throughout North America in order to sustain the country’s growth and acquire needed resources. This philosophy is evident in the westward expansion of the United States, including but not limited to the annexation of Texas and Oregon, the justification of the Mexican-American War, and the expansion of the railroad “from sea to shining sea.”

Dennis Chávez (1888-1962) was the first U.S.-born Hispanic elected to the United States Senate.

The Matachines dance is a ritual drama performed in Native American and Hispanic communities along the upper Rio Grande valley of New Mexico and in the greater Southwest. It is characterized by two rows of masked male dancers wearing mitre-like hats (cupiles) with long, multicolored ribbons down the back.

This image depicts George Washington.

Compadrazgo is a form of ritual co-parenthood within the Catholic Church. Godparents are chosen by the family, and are present at a child’s baptism. The relationship between the godparents and the parents is a strong and important constructed kinship.

Also known as the triskele or triple spiral, the triskelion is an ancient symbol of pre-Celtic and Celtic beliefs.

La Dama de Elche, one of the most important pieces of Iberian art dating from the early 4th century BCE, is believed to be Celtic in origin.

The Mexican Coat of Arms is a powerful historical symbol of the convergence of peoples and the birth and re-birth of a nation.

Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) is considered one of the most important deities of the pre-Hispanic era. Known as the creator of humanity and the god of wind, he appears as early as the Teotihuacán civilization as an earth and water deity, often associated with the rain god, Tlaloc. After Nahua-speaking tribes migrated from the north he became the God of the Morning and the Evening Star, seen as a symbol of death and resurrection. For the Aztecs, he was the patron of priests and the inventor of the calendar.

This image is a portrayal of the Roman Empire.

This depicts St. Augustine, the oldest city in Florida, next to the New Mexico Palace of the Governors.

The Chacmool is a pre-Columbian sculpture found throughout Mesoamerica. This figure is carved seated on the ground, with its knees raised and its head turned to the right at a 90-degree angle.

Approximately 17 million men, women, and children came to the Americas via the Atlantic slave trade. This number does not include those who died in transit.

This Spanish colonial road was also called the “Royal Road” or the “King’s Highway.” For 300 years it was the only thoroughfare to the rest of the empire for the inhabitants of New Mexico. It is the oldest highway running north and south, and at one time was the longest road in North America. Some of the route incorporated existing trading trails. It was used by Spanish conquistadores and colonizers, and in 1598 Juan de Oñate’s expedition extended the length of the road up to San Juan Pueblo. Although the route lost its importance with the arrival of the railroad in 1885, it is still considered an integral part of U.S., Native American, Mexican, and Spanish history, creating a cultural exchange that changed the region forever.

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, built in 1574 in honor of the Virgin, is located 11 miles northwest of Mexico City on the site of a pyramid to Quetzacoatl.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, Extremadura, is housed in the monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe in the town of Guadalupe in Cáceres, a province of Extremadura, Spain.

The Phoenicians were an ancient civilization occupying many of the coastal regions of the Mediterranean, including the Iberian Peninsula, from 1,500 BCE to 300 BCE.

The fresco is located at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M. and is open to public viewing Saturdays and Sundays from 12 pm–5 pm. You can learn more about the imagery and process at

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