The mural is by Bethany Diaz, Ms. Diaz’s daughter, an artist traveling around the country sharing her talent. Check out her work and bio at JustBPaints.com (Courtesy of Ms. Diaz)
The mural is by Bethany Diaz, Ms. Diaz’s daughter, an artist traveling around the country sharing her talent. Check out her work and bio at JustBPaints.com

Courtesy of Ms. Diaz

Spanish Class Mural Encourages Curiosity and Creativity

January 10, 2023

The Lakeland Regional High School Spanish Department has an exceptional new addition for the 2022-2023 school year. Spanish teacher’s Ms. Estela Diaz’s daughter, Bethany Diaz, painted a phenomenal mural in her mother’s classroom, Room 106, over the summer. The piece of art has brought smiles to staff and student faces, and has even brought more curiosity and creativity to the room’s learning environment.   

Ms. Diaz decided to have a classroom mural painted to brighten the classroom; in addition, everytime she walks into her classroom, the mural brings a smile to her face. 

Both Ms. Diaz and Bethany intended the mural to create a mood that will incite learning and interest. Bethany hopes that students who see the mural over the years will be excited to learn about different Caribbean and Central/South American legends. Additionally, Bethany is ambitious that some young artists that are thinking of pursuing a career in art will be inspired by her work. Ms. Diaz is hopeful that the artwork will encourage students to visit Puerto Rico someday in their future. 

Bethany’s mural is also a conversation starter. Ms. Diaz remembers how her students’ faces lit up on the first day of school at the sight of the mural. When the students first saw the mural, they immediately began asking questions such as: “Who painted it?” “OMG it’s painted?” “Who is that woman?” and “Where is El Yunque?” She also happened to notice Dr. Dave Niedosik, supervisor, exploring the mural while observing her classroom one day. 

Originally, the mural design was intended to be in a vegan Puerto Rican restaurant located in Florida. Unfortunately, the restaurant’s owner withdrew from the project at the last minute, which was upsetting for Bethany as she was really excited about the specific design she created. However, she was still grateful to be given the opportunity to paint the mural based off of El Yunque, the national rainforest of Puerto Rico.

The mural is by Bethany Diaz, Ms. Diaz’s daughter, an artist traveling around the country sharing her talent. Check out her work and bio here: JustBPaints.com (Courtesy of Ms. Diaz)

On picking a theme with her daughter, Ms. Diaz believed that the theme had to be consistent with what she teaches in class. In her Spanish 4 Honors class, short legends of Puerto Rico and the creation of the island are often read. After reading about Atabey & El Yunque, Ms. Diaz and Bethany began to brainstorm ideas on how to bring these stories to life. The woman in the mural is a representation of Atabey, a Puerto Rican Goddess said to have controlled the weather. When asked in further detail about Atabay, Ms. Diaz explained, “Atabey is an ancestral mother of the Taino. She is the female entity who represents the Earth Spirit and the Spirit of all horizontal water, lakes, streams, the sea, and the marine tides. This spirit was one of the most important for the native tribes that inhabited the Caribbean islands of the Antilles, mostly in Puerto Rico, and Cuba.” 

The actual mural creation process has a lot of steps most wouldn’t initially consider. Bethany’s first step was using a primer in order to prime the surface. The second step was to paint the background color shortly after. Afterwards, the design is drawn or traced. For this particular mural, Bethany was able to use a projector. Her design was projected onto the bulletin board and traced with a sharpie. The mural was painted using acrylic paint and spray cans. In total, the project took about three weeks. 

When looking into Bethanys’ art career with a closer lens, she has a wide range of experience. She has been drawing and painting since the third grade. During her high school years she studied advertising art and design at Passaic County Technical Institute. Afterwards, with the intent of getting into the animation industry, she attended the Ringling College of Art and Design. During her senior year, Bethany had the desire to work for herself. This led to her current career as a solo entrepreneur creating original pieces, artwork, and murals. Currently, Bethany is painting a school bus she plans to live in. It will function as a mobile studio so she can paint all over the country. As for the future, she dreams of eventually building a school focusing on helping kids pursue their passions, whatever they may be. Her goal is a school that would be K-12 that involves a custom curriculum designed with a team of professionals.

Ms. Diaz is proud that her daughter is able to display her artistic passions and talent which brings her joy and contentment. It is important to her that her students as well as children discover their passions and do so with all their heart.

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    Mrs. CawleyJan 26, 2023 at 11:16 am

    This is beautiful!!!

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