Famed artist from Mexico paints mural alongside Westminster High School students

  • Farid Anderson and students
  • Artist Farid Rueda
  • Español Club dancers
  • Westminster high school mural
  • Westminster high school mural
  • westminster hs mural group

It took visual art teacher Daina Anderson four years to get renowned artist Farid Rueda to travel to California and spend a week with her students at Westminster High School.

The first time Anderson extended an invitation to Rueda was over social media, but the artist didn’t have a visa that would allow him to come to the United States from his home in Cancun, Mexico. Then, the global pandemic happened.

For the past several years, Anderson has invited international artists to work alongside her students to give them a chance to learn different techniques and styles from people they have learned about in class. With the invitation accepted, Anderson and her students had to raise $5,000 to pay for Rueda’s time and accommodations for the week.

“It broadens their scope of humanity,” Anderson said. “Bringing in all these artists from different cultures has been such a fantastic opportunity for students.”

Rueda is considered one of the most well-known street muralists in Mexico. His bright and colorful pieces of large artwork have adorned walls in 24 different countries. Painting a 40-foot-long piece on the F building at Westminster High makes it his second mural in the United States. The first one was created in Miami.

Anderson, her 180 students and the artist began painting on Monday, May 16, and by Friday, May 20, the mural was ready to be unveiled to the school and community at a festival during lunch. While a lot of the attention was on the colorful lion, the school’s mascot, Rueda was quick to share the spotlight.

“Working with students was something new for me. I have to say that the concept for the mural was not totally mine,” Rueda said. “It was a collaboration with the students. They made a sketch that was inspired by my work. We talked about it and I gave them my advice.”

Following the theme of different colors working together to form one image, students from several clubs on campus kicked off the unveiling. The students from the Vietnamese American Culture Club performed a drum routine to start the show. They were followed by Westminster High cheerleaders and dancers from the school’s Español Club.

whs en masse mural
The first mural painted on campus was done in collaboration with a group of artists known as En Masse in 2015.

There are at least seven other murals on campus, with the first painted in 2015 after Anderson reached out to a Montreal-based group of artists known as En Masse, which pulls together divergent artists to create large black-and-white drawings packed with intricate details.

A couple years later, the teacher and her students collaborated with another highly regarded artist, Minjae Lee of South Korea. Her students raised $3,000 to fly Lee out to California, and together they created a mural that reflected the school’s heterogeneous student body.

“I think the murals make the campus look a little less institutional and more of a place where they can feel comfortable, happy and inspired as they walk through the hallways,” Anderson said.

While it took four years to bring Rueda to campus, Anderson believes this mural was worth the wait. The teacher has plans to continue inviting different artists every year until every wall on campus is covered with art.