Filed under Alumni

Update from our Fulbright Scholar

Judy Baca, "Concepcion de Ataco"

Rachel Heidenry, ’11, received a Fulbright Fellowship to study murals in El Salvador.  She recently emailed an update: “I split my time between San Salvador, the westernized capital, and Suchitoto, a small town about two hours north. In San Salvador, I tend to hop on the bus with my camera concealed in my backpack and head to spots where I know murals are. Once there, I photograph the murals from every angle and ask whoever I can for information. Often I just come across sprayed or painted walls, mostly graffiti or tags, documenting them through photography without knowing too much about their origins. In Suchitoto, life is much more laid-back. Based at the Centro Arte para la Paz (, I taught two drawing classes twice a week from October-December. One group was of young women, incredibly patient and eager to learn. The other was a mix of 10-12 yr olds (mostly boys) who struggled to draw for 2 hours without also practicing wrestling moves. Either way, it was a lot of fun and we ended the year with a final exhibition of students’ self-portraits while feasting on chocolate-carmel donuts.

So far, I have photographed over 300 painted walls, including fine art murals, community murals, graffiti, tags, advertisements, and political propaganda. I’ve conducted 3 formal interviews with established Salvadoran muralists, helping one get a commission to paint in Suchitoto. Informally, I have had countless conversations with Salvadorans about art and memory, finding support in my research and ideas. I also had the opportunity to design and paint a mural with a group of youth in Copapayo for the anniversary of the town’s massacre. This is just a little update to share with you all. I’m leaving out the countless pupusas, latin dance classes, and sponge-bob piñatas, but it is still a taste of my daily life and research. Also, please look at my photography blog (