Large-scale mural featuring Maya motifs and Maya people engaging in cultural practices. Overlayed, white text reads, "Maya Peoples".

About the Exhibit

Maya Peoples: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth is a collectively built exhibit that celebrates Maya continuity and the unbroken Maya spirit — whose languages, ceremonies, and connections to the land are founded on a common kinship.

Developed in collaboration with Maya community consultants, this exhibit provides a new way to understand the histories of the Maya Peoples and to honor past, present, and future Maya generations.

This exhibit features a mural by muralist and Maya community consultant Alicia María Siu. The mural’s design was driven by, and representative of, the Mayan community. The murals, titled K’AJLAY SUUM ((Thread of Memory/Memory Cord) in Maayat’aan) and B’ATZ’AL Q’IJ (Thread of Time in K’iche’) respectively, represent the past, present, and future of the Maya Peoples.

About the Artist:

Alicia María Siu is Nawat-Pipil/Maya from her mother’s side from Siwatewakan, Santa Ana, El Salvador. She is of Cantonese decent from her father’s side, who is second generation Nicaraguan born Chinese, from Bluefield’s Nicaragua. Alicia was born in El Progreso Yoro, Honduras, Lenca homelands. Due to civil unrest and war, her mother left El Salvador to Guatemala and later on to Honduras. Alicia was raised in San Pedro Sula, Honduras in the 80’s and 90’s, when the country experienced and is experiencing an invasion of transnational companies, neoliberal policies, increasing corruption, militarization, and social and economic injustices. Alicia and her family migrated to California in 1998. She began painting at the age of eight years old. She is inspired by her mother’s life story as an orphan child and the traditions of her Pipil/Maya ancestors. As a child she wanted to be a muralist.

Alicia holds a B.A. in Studio Art and a Masters in Native American Studies. Her thesis focuses on the historical clarification of the 1932 Holocaust of Nahuat Pipil in El Salvador. She painted her first mural in Autonomous Zapatista Community in Chiapas in 2001 and learned the community mural process, which she implements in her practice, with Chicano Maestro and Muralist Malaquias Montoya at UC Davis. She has since created murals in the community of Cucapa El Mayor, Patwin land in Knights Landing, CA; Nahuat Community of Valle de Anton in Panama; Matanzas, Cuba; Santa Barbara, CA; Honduras and many more. In 2006, she was part of the Zapatista Other Campaign in the Cucapa encampment and was encouraged and permitted by the Comandancia of the Zaptatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) to spread the vision of a “world where many worlds fit” through her art. Diaspora, de-conditioning from domination and decolonization, the continuation of ancestral knowledge and ceremony integrate her life and art. She currently lives in Southern California with her daughter. In this light she continues her artistic trajectory serving the seven generations before and ahead.

Learn more about Alicia María Siu and view her work.

Exhibit Images

A bench and the welcome wall to the "Maya Peoples" exhibit surrounded by five large Maya stelae monument casts and large-scale murals on the background walls. Text on the wall reads, "Maya Peoples: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth" and "Stories of the Beginning..."


Thank you to our community!

This exhibit was developed in partnership with Maya community consultants.

The murals were created and painted by artists and Maya community consultant Alicia María Siu.

Graphics were developed by the Optika Moderna team, Sonya Calderon and David Reynoso, with creative insight from community consultants and Kate Clyde.

The Museum of Us recognizes that it sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Kumeyaay Nation. The Museum extends its respect and gratitude to the Kumeyaay peoples who have lived here for millennia.

The Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Affiliations & Memberships:San Diego Museum Council logoCharity Navigator Four Star Charity logoBalboa Park Cultural Partnership Collaborative for Arts, Science and Culture logoAmerican Alliance of Museums logoSmithsonian Affiliate logoInternational Coalition of Sites of Conscience logo
Financial support provided by:San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture logo
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