When College of the Mainland student Mayra Garza set out to design a poster to enter into the running to be the official poster of Mardi Gras Galveston 2018, she knew she wanted to feature a colorful carnival girl.

Soon, though, an unwelcome gentleman caller by the name of Hurricane Harvey tried to crash the party.

Garza and her carnival girl were a hit, winning the competition, and including a sly wink at the hurricane and the area’s resilience in the face of storms.

“My family was really affected by Harvey, so during the semester it was kind of challenging for me,” she said. She wanted to incorporate a reference to that challenge in the poster and found inspiration in the days after the storm.

“My neighbor threw a huge block party and wanted everyone to come because he was so excited about the joy of everyone wanted to be there and being uplifted.”

A friend mentioned that oleander flowers had a special significance in Galveston’s identity and history. After the 1900 hurricane, “there was this women’s organization that planted the flowers to help lift up the town.” Oleanders became a recognizable symbol of the city.

So Garza decided to include that local symbol of resilience into the festive poster about a celebration Galveston has observed since long before Harvey, and even before the storm of 1900.

If you look closely at the poster, you’ll find oleander flowers subtly worked in to the brightly colored costume the woman pictured is wearing. “Her necklace has oleander flowers,” Garza said, and the flowers also appear in designs on gems in the woman’s costume.

Garza credited Coleena Jackson, a graphic arts professor at College of the Mainland, with urging her to enter the competition and with being supportive throughout a challenging time.

Garza, a Dickinson High School graduate, is in the graphic design program at COM, preparing for a career in graphic design and web design in the advertising field.

“I love the program,” Garza said. “It’s taught me a lot.”