Aqui y Alla

About The Project


Michelle Angela Ortiz, David Flores, Juan Carlos Reyes, Oscar Gallegos, Antonio Leal

Completion Date

1 October 2012


1515 South 6th Street

Artists Michelle Angela Ortiz, David Flores, Juan Carlos Reyes, Oscar Gallegos, Antonio Leal, photo by Steve Weinik

The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program partners on Aqui y Alla, a transnational public art project, created and directed by local artist Michelle Angela Ortiz.The project explores the impact of immigration in the lives of Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia in connection with youth in Chihuahua, Mexico, and will be dedicated in Philadelphia in October, during Mural Arts Month.

“Aqui y Alla”, which translates to “here and there”, refers to the youth in both Philadelphia and Mexico, whose lives are impacted by immigration through their family dynamic, sense of identity, shifting of cultures, socio-economic status, and violence against their communities. This project works simultaneously on both sides of the border to join the two cultural worlds through the vision of young people and their art.

In addition to the final mural in South Philadelphia, the Mural Arts Program will host a curated exhibit of photos, artwork, and video surrounding the project during Mural Arts Month. This month-long exhibit at the Lincoln Financial Mural Arts Center at the historic Thomas Eakins House (1727-29 Mt. Vernon Street) gives the community built around the mural, as well as a larger audience, the opportunity to engage with the work on a personal level, and learn more about the impact of immigration on youth on both sides of the border.

Four artists and community leaders from the Colectivo Rezizte (Juarez) and Colectivo Madroño (Chihuahua

City) worked with indigenous youth in Mexico, who created transportable murals on fiber cloth panels that were brought to Philadelphia. With the support of the United States Consulate in Juarez, the four artists (David Flores, Juan Carlos Reyes, Oscar Gallegos and Antonio Leal) traveled to Philadelphia to work in collaboration with lead local artist Ortiz in conducting a series of writing, street art, and mural technique workshops with Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia.

“The U.S. Consulate is dedicated to supporting community leaders in Mexico,” said Olga Bashbush, Public Affairs Officer, Consulate General of the United States of America. “This project will offer the youth in the state of Chihuahua an opportunity to create images that represent their experiences of living near the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Guided by the artists, the transported mural panels from Mexico will be permanently installed and combined with the images created by Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia. The end result will be a permanent mural located on 1515 South 6th Street (6th & Dickinson Streets) in South Philadelphia, which represents the messages of youth in both communities.

“I want to provide the youth—here and there—the opportunity to create awareness of the social conditions that exist in their communities. I want them to discover that they are not alone and that others also suffer from the impact of immigration and violence due to the lack of resources and racial and ethnic intolerance. The goal of the Aqui y Alla project is to empower youth through this exchange and creative process so they can find a common bond and have their voices resonate in the artwork we create together,” said Ortiz.

As a project partner, the Mural Arts Program worked with Ortiz and the other artists to provide scaffolding and paint, prep the wall, and employ a teaching artist to work with Art Education students. Philadelphia Academies Inc. joined the effort as a collaborator.

The project is made possible with funding from the United States Consulate in Juarez, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), the Leeway Foundation, Hispanics in Philanthropy, and individual donors.

About Michelle Angela Ortiz

Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist/skilled muralist/community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through painting, printmaking, and community arts practices, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues communities and individuals may face. Her work tells stories using richly crafted and emotive imagery to claim and transform “blighted” spaces into a visual affirmation that reveals the strength and spirit of the community.

For over ten years, Ortiz continues to be an active educator in using the arts as a tool for communication to bridge communities. As a highly skilled muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 30 large-scale public works nationally (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Mississippi, New York). Ortiz continues to make her mark with communities abroad, too. Since 2008, she has led community building and art for social change public art projects through the United States Embassy as a Cultural Envoy in Suva, Fiji, Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico, Vitoria, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also has led independent public art projects in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Puebla, Mexico.

In addition to her community arts work, she maintains her commitment to her own studio practice. Ortiz has exhibited her paintings and prints in numerous galleries and museums such as: Delaware Art Museum, George Washington Carver Center, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, The Painted Bride, Ice Box Gallery, Penn State HUB Gallery and the Goldey Paley Gallery. She has work in permanent and private collections abroad such as the Rohm and Haas Company, Galeria Tonatzin (San Juan Bautista, California) and Xicanoindio Gallery (Mesa, Arizone). For further information visit:,, and (Ortiz’ residency in Juarez, Mexico).

About David Flores, Juan Carlos Reyes and Colectivo REZIZTE

Colectivo REZIZTE is a multidisciplinary artist collective in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. REZIZTE shows the true image of a city like Juarez, under attack from several sides. The collective creates graffiti/street/ urban/mural art interventions that help fight and empower the people. REZIZTE’s current project PURO BORDE! consists of an artist-network (including Colectivo Madroño) that showcases artists and collaborators from the border towns in the area of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Their work is based on public art that combines different genres and media. This network portrays another face of the border region, a face that is more real, a face that is expressed through visual elements in their works. For more information, visit,, and

About Oscar Gallegos, Antonio Leal and Colectivo Madroño

Colectivo Madroño was founded in 2004 as a project dedicated to graffiti murals in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico. Its members are young men devoted to anthropology, graphic design, architecture, and psychology. The group has collaborated on different independent projects with various artists, nationally and internationally. For seven years, the collective has worked on the development of several murals in communities in the municipality of Chihuahua, integrating young people of these colonies and promoting themes of belonging in the community. Through the development of community murals, the members are community leaders that are dedicated to promoting citizen participation in the community and the practice of securities by youth, reflecting that theme on large canvases offered by the city through their fences and walls. For more information, visit and

Mural design credit: Created by lead artist Michelle Angela Ortiz in collaboration with David Flores, Oscar Gallegos, Juan Carlos Reyes and Antonio Leal

Photo credit: Michelle Angela Ortiz, Steve Weinik