Afro-Indigenous poet shares story of immigration

Five years ago, the Cross-Cultural Center (CCC) moved into the University Student Union and since then, has been anticipating a new community mural. 


Sept. 12 marked the end of the five-year wait as the center welcomed the Love Generator Community Mural into their office. Local artist, Isaias Crow, and CSUSM students came together in a series of five workshops to collaborate on the center’s new mural.


During the month of March, the mural process began and each workshop was led by both Crow and his wife, Irene Castruita. Together, the duo calls themselves “The Traveling Tribe of Light” and aim to create spaces of vulnerability, acceptance, conversation and connection.


The workshops began with students gathering in a circle and connecting on a deeper level, recalled Crow. “We’d introspect here [USU 3400] — we’d journal together and once that was done we’d bring out the rolls of canvas and get to work,” said Crow. 


The mural is a total of seven pieces and is painted with bright, vibrant colors. Its focal point is three individuals, on the left is someone reading a book, in the middle is someone smiling and making a heart with both of their hands and on the right of the mural is someone embracing themselves in a hug. In the mural’s background are words of affirmation placed in various positions with no particular structure. 


“The only ounce of instruction I gave the students was, ‘Write down what you need more of in your life,’” said Crow, “I never told them where to put it, how to do it– I trusted them in finding a creative rhythm for the painting.”


Crow explained how trusting the students in where they placed their affirmations allowed him to trace out the word “love” in the background, “Interestingly enough If I were to outline the background, you would see the word ‘love.’ That’s why the colors are where they are.”


Graduate assistant for the CCC, Daniela Carreon, told the attendants of the unveiling, “The vulnerable dialogue that we as students had with Isaias is seen on this mural.”


Carreon added, “Some of the words that I put on here were love and self-care. During this process I was going through my last year of undergrad, applying for grad school, and I needed a lot of self-care.”

Carreon explained that she has been working at the center since 2015 and has constantly been “pestering” for the mural. “I’m really happy that I was able to witness this all come into full circle,” said Carreon.


Assistant Director of the CCC, Floyd Lai, said, “This mural marks the bookend of our center’s 15-year anniversary celebration in 2018. This mural has been here since the start of summer, but we wanted to have this unveiling for you all to come together as a community and enjoy the food and celebration.” 


At the unveiling, Irene Castruita provided vegan food in an effort to promote mindful eating. “We [her and Crow] want to generate love. I wanted to provide vibrant food– similar to the painting, in order for all of you to feel good inside,” said Castruita. She provided two different salads, a vegan ceviche and jamaica agua fresca for the attendees.


The last time that the Cross-Cultural Center had a mural was back in 2008 and it was completed by artist Armando Zepeda. That mural has been located in the conference room on the top floor of the CHABSS Dean’s Office for five years. 


The Cross-Cultural Center was established in 2003 and is committed to creating an inclusive environment on the CSUSM campus. The center is located at USU 3400.