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New Lafayette art installation celebrates Spanish heritage within the community

A local artist finds a way to shift the narrative, to thinking about the perseverance of these families, rather than focusing on their oppression.

LAFAYETTE, Colorado — An artist is installing a mural in the city of Lafayette to celebrate the Spanish heritage within the community. 

Jessica Manzanares received a grant from the Lafayette Public Arts Commission. The artist along with her Aunt went door to door asking Spanish families for photos of their well-known matriarchs and patriarchs that created roots in Lafayette at a time when the city was not the most welcoming.

"I've heard the stories of the encounters with the KKK and other discriminatory things that happened but I just think about that perseverance of these families," Manzanares said.

The art teacher did not want to dwell on the city's history but rather the families that didn't give up during tough times. Manzanares had the images families gave her enlarged and painted them on the side of a building at the corner of North Public Road and East Genesco Street. 

"For me it was more so just the love and hearing the stories of what this community was," Manzanares said. "I've been dreaming about this like I see their faces in my dream like, 'Is it going to go up the way I want it to? The response has been so positive."

Manzanares' Aunt Anita was gleaming from ear to ear on Friday morning as she stared at a photo of herself on the wall. She couldn't have been older than 5-years-old in the image.

"I'm 78 and this is the joy of my life right now," she said as she held back tears. "This is better than a birthday present."

Manzanares hopes to have the piece completed in the next day or two. She expects it will remain up for about a year. 

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