Windows to Health: Murals Addressing Community Health Issues




The Power of Stories is an archive of projects submitted every year to Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Statewide Convening. It showcases work created throughout California highlighting the power of individual and collective efforts to promote health and demonstrates how stories have the power to re-imagine and transform our communities. Produced in partnership with the California Endowment.

Project Submitted by:  Karen Mack

Project Summary: Youth created murals based on hundreds of community interviews and questions about health issues.

BHC Site: South L.A.

The "Windows to Health" mural project involved 79 South LA high school youth working with 8 professional artists to collect hundreds of interviews from members about community health challenges and visions for a healthy South LA and to create a series of 16 murals currently installed on public buildings. The project was produced by LA Commons and sponsored by the California Endowment and Building Healthy Communities South LA.

Youth teams collected stories directly from the community and shared the stories as well as the positive narratives that sprung directly from peoples' experiences. Youth were the core story gatherers and art makers in the projects. They also publicly presented the stories of the art and were recognized as leaders in the community. Youth who participated in the story gathering, art making and presentations were more likely to be engaged and stay engaged in activities that promote positive change in the community.

Many BHC SLA partners collaborated to identify the themes of the work, to host workshop sites, story summits and celebrations and to identify ways in which art making or the final art work can be useful to community wide efforts for positive change.

South LA holds a wealth of creativity and artists, but little support for youth and artists. LA Commons works in collaboration with BHC SLA Partners to involve youth and artists to engage communities to share stories, make art, celebrate culture and to use art as a force to help make positive change for greater health in our LA Communities.

Currently LA Commons is working to produce a video about the amazing work happening to create healthier South LA, and is working with youth artist teams to create art that will help educate voters and residents about issues related to the effects of mass incarceration in our community and opportunities for change such as Prop 47.

Artists include: June Edmonds, Noni Olabisi, Omar Ramirez, Heriberto Luna, Stephanie Argueta, Pola Lopez, Carol Zou, Jose Lozano and youth artists from Manual Arts, Foshay Learning Center, Fremont HS, Augustus Hawkins HS, Mervin Dymally High Schools and partner organizations: LA Metropolitan Churches, Community Coalition, Weingart YMCA, Expo Center, Cooking with Gabby, YOLA - Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, Brotherhood Crusade and UMMA Clinics and Wellness Center.

Mural displayed at UMMA Wellness Center
Mural displayed at UMMA Wellness Center
Murals displayed at Expo Center
Murals displayed at Expo Center
Youth paint a mural at L.A. Commons
Youth paint a mural at L.A. Commons

All photos courtesy of L.A. Commons

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