Source: Daily Breeze
The Child Development Center at Cal State Dominguez Hills has a new mural – and it boasts a message:
Education starts early.
The mural, which went up earlier this year and is permanent, features a blue sky, lush grass, chirping birds and a field of wildflowers. In the middle of the painting is the baby version of CSUDH’s mascot, Teddy Toro, with an opened book in front of him.
The mural’s message is that higher education starts at the early stages of childhood, said Child Development Center Director Candace Manansala. It was part of an attempt to revamp the center, which Manansala took over in January 2022.
“The center was mostly known for a play-based kind of mentality and not higher education,” Manansala said. “We wanted to inspire children for higher education.”
With this goal in mind, Manansala started seeking student volunteers who could understand her vision of higher education and create an appropriate mural. After reviewing 15 applications, a sketch by freshman Eric Marquez caught her attention.
“Eric’s values are very similar and aligned with my values,” Manansala said, which are “education starts with our family, ourselves and the institution that you set yourself at.
“You have to set a strong foundation (for education),” she added, “and that starts at our center.”
For more than two months, Marquez came to the center every day in between school and his tutoring job to turn an empty wall into a captivating mural, titled “Dream to Wonder,” Manansala said. His art was unveiled at the center’s preschool graduation ceremony on May 24.
The original idea for the painting, Marquez said, came to him while he was in a sociology class.
“My idea was I’m picturing a higher elevation, like the Dominguez Hills mountains, with children and baby Toros and books in mind,” he said. “It kind of just came to me in class. I felt the force. I said that would be a good idea.”
Marquez and his siblings, as children, loved re-creating scenes from Disney shows and the classic animations from the 1990s, he said.
But he credited his eldest sister, Amber, with instilling in him a passion for arts. He also loves painting portraits.
“When she was in high school, I really looked up to her because she was taking me to dance classes and doing this amazing work,” Marquez said.
Drawing from these experiences, Marquez said, he jotted down his concept in a sketchbook in February and started painting in March.
While painting, Marquez said, he kept in mind how the mural would be seen both from afar and up close.
“I just try to make it fit both of those perspectives,” Marquez said. “So when the kids are on the playground, they could kinda view it and when they’re up close, they can touch it and like, be a part of the painting, touch the flowers and the blocks.”
Marquez said he hopes the kids who come to the center, most of whom are infants and preschoolers, enjoy his artwork.
“We’re getting new, incoming students every year, all the time,” he said, “and it’s gonna be like, if anything, one of their first memories of the Child Development Center.”