Author and Borderland native J.L. Powers has written a new children’s book about the life of internationally known Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza.
The story of George Mendoza has been one that has been the subject of multiple books and films, and now it is being told through a colorful child’s book by J.L. Powers titled, “The Colors of the Wind-The story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza.” The book is also filled with artwork from Mendoza.
At 15, Mendoza developed a rare disease that caused him to slowly lose his eyesight. All of a sudden the teenage life he was living became full of limitations. Mendoza says going blind is the toughest thing to go through at any age.
“I was in Driver’s Ed. in New York and they pulled me out cause I couldn’t see anymore. Then I went to the blind school and I moved to New Mexico. It’s a very tough disability. It isn’t easy when you can’t drive and can’t read in a society that is so sight-oriented,” says Mendoza.
Mendoza later attended New Mexico State University. He continued his love for running and continued to compete. In 1980 and 1984 he competed in the Olympics for the Physically Disabled.
Mendoza wasn’t completely blind, but was still frustrated with the vision he was left with. He says that his vision is similar to what one may see in a Kaleidoscope.
It was on a retreat when he was younger that a priest encouraged him to take what he saw as inspiration to paint how he see’s the world. After he stopped competing he did just that, and devoted his time to his art. His career took off, and now his work is being displayed in a Smithsonian exhibit. Besides being an artist, Mendoza is also an inspirational speaker and writer.
“My paintings became fabrics because my stuff is very whimsical and I think that I’m a relief in the very complicated adult detailed world that we live in,” says Mendoza.
J.L. Powers, well known for writing books for young adults, she always wanted to write a children’s book. After reading children’s books about Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, she was hoping that this book would have an opportunity to showcase Mendoza’s art.
Powers says she hopes kids take away the determination of Mendoza that highlights the book.
“I would love for kids to see this as a story of true perseverance, and also turning around something that some people consider a weakness and making it actually a strength," says Powers.
Powers also hopes that the book can introduce kids to art.
“That’s the great thing about this book, because the actual art is in there. It’s illustrated by George’s artwork. I think it can capture imaginations and hopefully lead kids to experiment with art, and to hope and persevere,” says Powers.
There will be a “Colors of the Wind” Book Party & Art Activity with J.L. Powers and George Mendoza at The Las Cruces Branigan Library, August 16th at 10:30am-noon.
There is also a “Meet the Author” event with J.L. Powers at Books are GEMS in El Paso on August 23rd, 10 a.m.