A Look at Leo Tanguma's The Rebirth of Our Nationality Mural

Categories: Visual Arts

All photos by Abrahan Garza, Courtesy of houstoricproject.com
As the Preservons la Creation (Let's Preserve the Creation) mural, being touted as the largest mural in the history of Houston, nears completion in Midtown we take a look at what was once the largest mural in the city. Leo Tanguma's 1973 The Rebirth of Our Nationality mural on the side of the Continental Can Company factory/warehouse on Canal Street, covers just over 4,000 square feet while la Creation, which will cover one side of a five-story building, is expected to cover some 8,000 square feet.

Once made up of vivid colors, the Rebirth mural is almost completely worn away these days. Discussions about restoring the mural, either by Tanguma or under his direction, regularly pop up among community activists and artists but Tanguma, who is now based in Colorado, is reportedly uninterested in the project.

Abrahan Garza, a Houston Press employee and frequent contributing photographer, took a series photos of Rebirth, superimposing historic photos that show the mural as it once was over the mural as it is today.


Tanguma spent several years in Houston, studying with famed African American artist John Biggers who taught at Texas Southern University, a historically black college. Biggers urged Tanguma to explore the work of muralists in Mexico. Tanguma eventually met and worked with David Alfaro Siqueiros, a Mexican muralist who, along with Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, worked in the social realism style.


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That is pretty cool. I live by this mural and have passed by it on my bike many times, each time wondering what it must have looked like back in the day. Thanks for letting us see it as it was meant to be.

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