Iftin Charter School // City Heights
Mural Artist: Esteban Sánchez
These vibrant and captivating murals were a collaborative effort between artist Esteban Sánchez and middle school students from Iftin Charter School. They stand as a celebration of the profound interconnectedness between the natural world and the rich tapestry of cultures that thrive within City Heights. Upon entering the campus, students are greeted by welcoming words in six different languages, reflecting the diverse cultures that call City Heights home: English, Spanish, Arabic, Somali, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. City Heights holds a unique place as a neighborhood that intersects numerous vibrant communities, including refugees from around the globe. These murals pay homage to these resilient populations.
At the heart of both murals are various animals native to East Africa, including the lion, hartebeest, elephant, giraffe, and, notably, the camel. Camels hold special significance in Somalia for their utility, and they symbolize traits such as survival, adaptability, travel, patience, and endurance—qualities embodied by many Iftin students. Surrounding the camel is the king protea, Somalia’s national flower, known for its remarkable toughness and resilience, capable of enduring prolonged droughts and harsh climates. Additionally, the murals feature both the rising sun and crescent moon, symbolizing new beginnings, growth, and renewal. The mesmerizing desert dunes that fill the mural’s background pay tribute to the desert landscapes characteristic of many East African and Middle Eastern countries, the places of origin for the majority of Iftin families. These dunes symbolize tranquility, serenity, and the power and beauty of nature. Finally, there is a nomadic family that can be seen traveling across the dunes. Like the nomads in the mural, many Iftin families have embarked on arduous journeys, traversing the world and enduring challenging circumstances. These murals serve as a tribute to their resilience as they continue their journey. All of these elements come together to inspire and instill a lasting sense of pride in one’s heritage and community in all current and future Iftin students.
This mural was at no cost to Iftin Charter School and was made possible in part by City Council District 9 and the ArtReach Mural Program.