08:33 AM

STC alumna and tattoo artist to unveil ‘Dreamcatcher’ mural celebrating student success


Two years since graduating with her associate degree in Visual Arts from South Texas College, Esmeralda Reyna said she has been commissioned to create the Starr County campus’ next mural dedicated to student success.

Esmeralda Reyna says her life is dedicated to the pursuit of art and visual storytelling.

In her day job, the South Texas College Starr County campus alumna owns and operates RG Ink a local tattoo parlor with her husband in Rio Grande City, a job she started as a high school senior looking for a trade that would allow her to showcase her talents.

Carving out a niche in small, minimalistic tattoos since 2016, Reyna said putting needle to skin on a daily basis has become a means to support her family, but there are even better opportunities on the way thanks in part to the path established by a community of artists at STC.   

“Tattooing has been the main way I have been able to strive financially, but STC is where my dream begins,” Reyna said. “The college has had a huge impact on my education and what I want to do, which is come back one day and teach art at the college level. STC has put this dream within reach.”

Reyna started at STC in 2018 and graduated with an associate degree in Visual Arts in 2021. Along the way, she was encouraged to apply her creative talents to projects on and off campus in order for her to gain real-world experience.

The college has had a huge impact on my education and what I want to do, which is come back one day and teach art at the college level. STC has put this dream within reach. 

Esmeralda Reyna, South Texas College Visual Arts alumna

Fascinated with all kinds of artistic mediums, from charcoal drawings to oil and acrylic painting, Reyna said she immersed herself in student involvement on campus. She was part of a group of students who created the Starr County Campus’s first mural in the Student Activities Center on campus and was often commissioned by staff and faculty for custom work.

“My work really took off when I began doing pet portraits for (Starr County campus Administrator) Dr. Montiel who really liked my art. I thought that was so nice of him,” Reyna said. “I felt privileged to do a piece of work for him and for the campus itself when I helped with the mural. This is why STC has had a huge impact on my education and what I wanted to do.”

Administrators at the college say Reyna’s work is well known throughout the community, and she has emerged as a true success story for the college.  

“Esmeralda’s latest mural represents the dream of college completion that most students share and the possibilities of making this dream come true through college support,” Montiel said. “She has many works of art across the county and state and has a strong following of loyal customers who appreciate her talent. This artist is a true Starr County success story who continues to serve her community by displaying her work for everyone to admire and enjoy.  

 Now two years after receiving her degree, Reyna has been commissioned by a special committee at Starr County to create the campus’s next mural in the campus’ South Academic Building.  

The theme for the new mural, Reyna said, was creating an image representing student success and graduation, which she sought to depict through a dreamcatcher motif.

“Native Americans used dreamcatchers to capture good dreams, and so we want students to do the same. I want them to see my work and relate to it,” Reyna said. “Overall, I like to think that a student becomes a dreamcatcher when they choose to follow their own dreams. It’s what STC has created in me, to strive for something greater, even when the odds were stacked against me.”

The new mural is expected to be complete in late summer.

For more information on STC’s Visual Arts program visit www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/visual-arts/.

Registration for fall 2023 is underway. Classes begin Aug. 28.