Milagros: A Prayer for Downtown San Antonio | UTSA Today | UTSA
Familiarity with downtown San Antonio comes easier to Rodriguez Gil than many. The UTSA graduate spent most of her childhood in schools near the downtown corridor, where she helped in her mother’s photo studio and often attended mass at the San Fernando Cathedral.
After graduating from Providence High School, she moved to Mexico City to study at the Academia de San Carlos, a historical arts university.
During her time there she was mentored by artists Celia Calderon who broadened her horizons by letting her explore a variety of mediums, including printmaking and sculpture.
follow her licensethe equivalent of an American Bachelor of Fine Arts, Rodriguez Gil moved back to San Antonio to pursue her Master of Fine Arts at UTSA.
Her mother and grandmother served as teachers, and Rodriguez Gil followed in their footsteps after graduating from UTSA in 1986.
She spent much of her career teaching public education at Kennedy High School and eventually Edgewood Fine Arts Academy, where she met students from several school districts. Yet while teaching, she never lost sight of gallery work and her true love of public art installation.
Rodriguez Gil often made a habit of sharing her artworks in the community, placing small sculptures in public flower beds or leaving small prints downtown for passers-by to take home and cherish, in a nod to contemporary ones World Art Drop Day. She shares that this act was very similar to that milagros (miracles) in Mexico, where worshipers left small works of art along with their prayers in churches and shrines.
“I was consumed reading all the prayers and offerings at churches in Mexico and at the Cathedral of San Fernando downtown. They were dedicated, ambitious and inspired a lot of my sculpting work,” she explained. “So when the opportunity arose with the UTSA Arts Commission, I was excited to share my vision and applied.”
Rodriguez Gil was thrilled to be accepted for a public art project sponsored by the UTSA Arts Commission and to have the opportunity to share a little of her history and love for downtown San Antonio. The anatomical heart had been an integral part of her art for some time, and the ability to explore the medium of bronze was a logical fit for a downtown installation that would have a lasting impact on the community.
“I wanted to have a message there about the presence of the community. Milagros are so important to Mexican, Mexican-American and other cultures. It felt right to place them at UTSA in the heart of downtown,” she explained. “Each heart is a prayer, and I even placed an extra large heart at the Tomás Rivera Center in honor of Tomás Rivera.”