Judith F. Baca: Muralist, Activist & Educator | KCET
Judith F. Baca: Muralist, Activist & Educator
In the 1970's, a young woman from Pacoima named Judith F. Baca moved to Venice with the hopes of becoming the next great American muralist. Echoing the New Deal cultural programs created during the depression under president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Baca, along with painter Christina Schlesinger and filmmaker Donna Deith opened the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in 1976. Its goal was to, "produce, preserve and conduct educational programs about community-based public art work," that reflected the social and ethnic realities of the city. SPARC's first large-scale project was none other than The Great Wall of Los Angeles, an almost mile-long mural chronicling the "unofficial" history of the city through the eyes of Native Americans, women and minorities. For more than 30 years SPARC, with Baca at its helm, has created hundreds of murals across Los Angeles and the US, setting a clear example of the transformative power of art.
A Woman Artist
"When you want to run away from traditional places you run to Venice. I left, wanting to be a serious artist and became one."
"The murals were integral to Venice. SPARC was right here doing the work and transforming our jail from a place of oppression to a kind spot of liberation, the spot of hope."
To Argue Aloud
"Here was this obscenity written on the wall and the people of Venice thought it was important to respect it."
In such a controversial campaign as Proposition 187, art and politics inenvitably mix. During the 1990s a number of politicians (established and aspiring) helped shape the campaign, as artists on the ground informed the public and inspired them to act.
From performing with an ensemble to working at the Smithsonian to mentoring Watts youth (including a young Nipsey Hussle), WTAC's advocate has done it all and keeps fighting for her adopted neighborhood.
“We get it all the time — people come up to us and say, ‘We didn't know that Black people live in Santa Monica,” Carolyne Edwards said. “And there was a huge population there.”
On the Shoulders of Giants: The Lineage and Growth of California’s Intergenerational, Multiracial Youth Movement
The early and ongoing commitments of movement elders helped set the stage for young social movement leaders addressing many of the pressing issues facing our nation today.