Polo Francisco: the Man Behind the Mural

Central takes great pride in our school’s most passionate performative art forms: dance, band, cheer, and sports teams; often, it seems, visual or more traditional art forms do not receive the same recognition. Many may not realize they walk the halls with talented, undiscovered student artists. In fact, many places on campus are home to some incredibly stunning pieces of work.

One such place is SRO Edwards’s security office. Tucked away at the front of Lower North hallway, it may be the last place a student wants to end up. However, this previously insipid and uninspiring space is actually the new home of a remarkable piece of original student artwork. The far wall now boasts a mural depicting our school’s historic Bobcat, prominent and striking as it has been for decades. Those who view the piece can almost hear the distant lyrics of our school’s fight song, Red and Black, as it rings through the cold air of a Friday night. 

The as yet undiscovered artist behind this mural is Polo Francisco, a student who immigrated to the United States from Guatemala. 

If you were to come across Polo around campus, you might assume that he’s a little quiet. A glimpse at his online presence, however, may stun you for a moment.

Beneath his quiet exterior lie an abundance of raw, passionate talent.

Most impressive perhaps is the process that Polo used to begin working. He started with some small stationery and the bobcat watermark, slowly scaling and stenciling the image on the far wall.

Over the course of several days after the rough outline was completed, Polo began to fill in the empty space with white paint, as seen in the finished image.

Using the white dried paint as a background and outline, he added the red paint to illustrate the details of the bobcat’s furry cheeks and ears.

The whole process took Polo several weeks to complete, as he only had around an hour and thirty minutes each day to make progress.

We’re both working on learning each other’s languages, but using the power of google translate, it wasn’t too long until I found out that Polo creates a host of vibrant, beautiful portraits on his social media platforms, primarily Instagram.

Polo says that he uses acrylic paint and other advanced techniques to get the face of whatever character he is creating perfectly centered on the sheet. The price of creating these portraits isn’t always low, though. 

“Cuando yo estaba en mi país Guatemala gastaba entre 7 mil quetzales,” (Living in Guatemala, Polo spent up to 7000 quetzals on his supplies – around $907 in USD) Imagining a person- a student, nonetheless- spending almost a thousand dollars on art supplies is baffling; it truly illustrates how dedicated Polo is to his passion. (On the left, a picture of Polo.)

“Y mi mayor deseo es que quiero dar a conocer la cultura de mi pais Guatemala, con arte,” (Polo’s greatest wish is to make the culture of his country known through his work.)

When the school administration offered him a place to put the mural, Polo was thrilled. 

Most every day for the last few weeks, he comes to Edwards’s office during his third block to make progress on the bobcat mural. As of a week ago, the mural is now complete. 

Polo felt relieved and proud when the job was done. He has left a permanent legacy on the walls of lower north. 

For those who’d like to view a collection of his portraits firsthand, as well as another photo of the mural, you can find him on Instagram at @poloart_502 

Read more from The Bobcat Times:

Turning ASL to Art

Boys soccer season can’t stop, won’t stop

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