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Mural named National Historic Landmark!

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell named Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry mural a National Historic Landmark this month. According to the National Park Service, this distinction means the mural “possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”

Located at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the mural illustrates the city’s manufacturing laborers during the 1930s. The mural is “considered by many scholars to be Rivera’s greatest extant work in the United States,” notes the National Park Service. “[It is] an exemplary representation of the introduction and emergence of mural art in the United States between the Depression and World War II.”

Like many muralists, Diego Rivera showed a natural gift for drawing at a young age. His father supported the boy’s talent and created an art studio for him by covering the walls of his room with drawing paper. Young Diego was then encouraged to paint all over the walls!

After studying at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City, Rivera moved to Europe. He lived in Madrid before settling in Paris where he developed friendships with fellow artists including Picasso, Matisse, and Modigliani. Their influence led to a series of Cubist works but eventually Rivera ventured off to find his own signature style.

At this time, Rivera also became more politically involved. He felt art shouldn’t just be contained in museums and wanted to empower everyone so he started painting scenes of political relevance onto the walls of public buildings. The practice helped revive mural art in the 20th century.

Eager to spread his message, Rivera moved back to Mexico to become more politically active via his mural painting during the 1920s. By the 1930s, he and his new wife (artist Frida Kahlo) moved to the U.S. where he was commissioned to complete several murals—one of them at the Detroit Institute of Arts which just received its National Historic Landmark status.

And to think Rivera’s artistic legacy all started because his father let him draw on walls!

If you have a budding muralist in your family, you too can be supportive with Whiteyboard’s Clear Dry Erase Paint. Once it easily (and invisibly) goes over your walls, it can be drawn on with dry erase markers which can be wiped off to accommodate countless practice murals. Who knows, it may lead to something big!

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