ST. LOUIS — Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions and achievements made by Hispanics.
To highlight their influence, 5 On Your Side is featuring those who are making an impact in the St. Louis area.
In this spotlight, we focus on a group of artists creating a mural to represent their community.
The "Building Bridges" Mural is by the Latinx Arts Network near the Delmar Loop.
Four women leading this endeavor is Colombian Luisa Otero Prada, Mexican Aleida Hertel, Peruvian Carol Lara, and Colombian Eliana Cristancho.
They are trying to draw in the community to this mural. It's supposed to focus on migration, diversity, youth, and hope.
Lara says, "This little girl was an Afro-Latina girl because that is a part of our community that is underrepresented."
The hands behind the brush know the importance of representation.
Lara was born in St. Louis, yet she still felt different.
"When I was little, there were no Hispanic people that I know of, I was the only one in my school. I think it's important to have someone that looks like us," Lara adds.
As for Cristancho, she came to St. Louis 22 years ago from Bogota.
"We were here by ourselves with no families at all. It was very difficult in the beginning," Cristancho explains.
She's been able to use art as an outlet over time.
Cristancho explains, "Through the art, I can express different kinds of things and feelings from my culture."
As for Otero Prada, she moved here in 2001 to find better options for her son, who has autism.
Three different backgrounds formed a bond over the same passion: To tell stories, including their own.
For Otero Prada, it was Michael Brown's death that moved her to connect with others.
She says, "I thought okay, my husband is African American, my stepsons are African American, I was living in North County. I started to think about St. Louis, the dynamics and everything happening, it was painful. I'm not even from here, but it's my home. I started to connect with artists all over. I like the idea to bring people together, the Latin community can get close to the African American community in St. Louis."
And that's how we ended up here today, in front of this vision, which offers hope.
Through this creation, these women are feeling seen themselves.
"I've been here all my life and this is something just now starting to happen for me. Whether it be music, food, or arts, I think people are starting to pay attention," Lara says.
Their reasons to create this piece varies, yet the message stays the same.
They are trying to paint a brighter future.
"I'm excited to see what the future holds," Lara explains optimistically.
There will be a Hispanic Festival 2021 taking place October 2 and 3 at Knights of Columbus Park in Florissant.
This is a two-day celebration of the Hispanic arts and culture with folkloric dancers, authentic food booths, Quinceanera Fashion Show, Children's Pavilion with pinatas and games, Hispanic Crafts and live Latino Bands.
Tito Puente Jr., son of famous salsa singer Tito Puente, will be performing Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Sonora Santanera (Mexican Band) on Sunday, Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m.