Sandia LabNews

Education and learning focus of Sandia/Lockheed Martin gift

Education and learning focus of Sandia/Lockheed Martin gift

Sandia National Laboratories/Lockheed Martin recently presented the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) and its Foundation with a $100,000 gift. Pam Catanach (3652) says that brings the total to $432,125 over the last several years.

The $100,000 will support the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s education program, completion of the fresco in the Torreón (watchtower), and a naming in the future education building. Groundbreaking for the education building is slated for early next year.

The Torreón fresco is a masterpiece in the making. Images ranging from Mayan, Aztec, and Peruvian gods, to Anasazi and Christian religious saints, Celtic and Roman symbols, Phoenician and Moorish figures, Spanish missions in the Southwest, and historical icons grace more than 100 interconnected panels. When complete, the Torreón will have the distinction of containing the largest concave fresco in the United States, covering approximately 4,000 square feet.

New Mexico native Frederico Vigil (at the top of the lift in the photograph at right) is the creator of the fresco depicting the history of people of Hispanic origin in the Americas and the Iberian Peninsula.

“Each image will depict an event or a character in Hispanic history,” says Vigil. “Before I began sketching, five PhD’s in Hispanic history and I met to discuss people and events spaning more than 500 years. The sketches were reviewed for accuracy, and a final design was approved.”

The ancient form of Buon Fresco dates back to 3000 B.C., with its popularity peaking in Italy with Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel, and in Mexico with Diego Rivera’s works in the last century. It was also used by Native Americans in their pottery. Fresco refers to the process of painting lime and inorganic pigment on wet plaster. The process of bonding plaster is time-consuming, as lime and paint mixtures are prepared and five coats of plaster are applied. Should mistakes be made, the plaster must be scraped off and the process begins again. Completion should take about three and a half years.

“What I paint today, tomorrow, and what I painted yesterday, will be here forever,” says Vigil. He is now teaching the next generation, interns Adriana Felix and César Chávez, as he was taught by disciples of world-renowned artist Diego Rivera.

“Sandia/Lockheed Martin and its employees have been involved in the NHCC since its inception in 2000,” says Katherine Archuleta, executive director of the NHCCF. “They have generously offered us human and financial resources.” Even before that time, CFO Frank Figueroa played an instrumental role as the chair of the National Hispanic Culture Center Foundation Board of Trustees.

“Art, music, theatre, and performance are so important to provide opportunities for children to express themselves,” says Mike DeWitte (3650). “We must enable and engage our children in the interconnectivity of the arts and science/math.”

The Torreón is not open to the public so that Vigil can continue his work. There will be a reception on Oct 27, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and the Torreón will be open for viewing. For more information on the Torreón contact Heather Norfleet at (505) 766-9858, or visit