When a group of Lompoc High School students got together in the spring to collaborate on a mural, they tossed around several ideas.
They were then challenged by Lompoc artist Phrankie Guerrero, who worked with them on the project.
“I just told them, ‘A lot of people are going to see this — this is your opportunity to say something,’” he said. “’What is it that you want to say and what is it that you want people to be aware of?’”
Their answer is now prominently on display in the city.
Five of the 17 students who worked on the mural were joined Thursday evening by Guerrero, their art teacher, members of the Lompoc Mural Society and other city leaders as they unveiled the completed artwork, which is featured on the El Camino School fence near the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and H Street.
The students’ artwork is the newest on the Community Canvas, a prominent display spot sponsored by the Mural Society.
The mural reflects on prominent social issues, particularly as they relate to Lompoc.
Because Bridge House is Lompoc’s homeless shelter and also across the Highway 246 bridge, the students’ mural has a cracked bridge on the left with images of people dealing with issues such as homelessness and abuse. On the mural’s right is a strong bridge with images reflecting positive aspects of life, including happy relationships, employment, graduations and success. The center features a woman’s face with her mouth covered by tape bearing question marks.
The top left of the mural has the word “Life...” and the bottom right reads “Liberty?”
“We wanted to help the community and show the big problems that we have in society,” said Rylee Sager, one of the student artists.
The group of students was introduced during Thursday’s ceremony by Beth Corry, their art teacher at Lompoc High.
“They spent hours and hours and their spirit and soul went into this,” she said. “I’m very, very proud of them.”
The students who worked on the mural, in addition to Sager, are: Rachel Pacheco, Gesell Lopez, Natalie Morales, Sahira Gonzalez, Luis Mendoza, Claudia Araujo, Shea Herrera, Kenneth Roberts, Maximo Barragan-Manzo, Sophia Carrillo, Ulysses Ferruzca, Jose Galarza, Jose Iniguez, Marcos Zarate, Hector Vlasquez and Julian Unzueta.
“We worked until the very last minute, until the last day of school,” Pacheco said at Thursday’s unveiling ceremony. “We had to go over and redo a lot (of the background) and with everyone working on a certain side, it was really hard.”
The civic leaders — including Mayor John Linn — who were on hand Thursday praised the students for their effort, and also thanked them for adding to the city’s artistic landscape.
“In the 25 years that the murals have been in Lompoc, they’ve really added another dimension to our community,” said Ken Ostini, the president of the Lompoc Chamber of Commerce. “Lots and lots of tourists come here to see our murals. We’re a very unique community and we’re very fortunate to have our murals. Keep up the good work.”