Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Miguel Angel Asturias: 1899-1974: Writer to Don Berrysmith Biography - Grew up in the Pacific Northwest » Judith F. Baca: 1946—: Muralist, Visual Artist, Educator Biography - Raised In A Female Household, Began Working With Underprivileged Children, Launched Great Wall Project, World Wall Established In Jerusalem

Judith F. Baca: 1946—: Muralist, Visual Artist, Educator - Began Working With Underprivileged Children

murals youths project angeles


Baca's next job was with the city of Los Angeles in a special program for artists. Baca's new job was to travel from schools to parks, teaching art. She soon formed her own group, Las Vistas Nuevas, a group for children from four different gangs and neighborhood groups. Baca's group painted her first mural for her, in Hollenbeck Park. The success of this mural led to recognition that Baca could use art to turn around the lives of children who other city workers had found unmanageable. Eventually, Baca's work with the city of Los Angeles would lead to the creation of hundreds of murals, most of which were created by youths who might otherwise have never discovered art.

The moment that really changed Baca's life, though, was her discovery of the Mexican muralist tradition. This occurred when she received a book on "Los Tres Grandes,"—Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco. Reading about these three early Mexican muralists inspired Baca to learn more about the tradition of murals, and by the mid-1970s, she had traveled to Mexico to take classes in mural techniques and materials.

After she returned to Los Angeles, and with the backing of the city, Baca began an ambitious project, the Citywide Mural Project. Under the auspices of this project, Baca supervised the painting of at least 250 murals. It became clear that Baca had a special talent for working with youths and for inspiring their creativity. She was taking multicultural youths, whom the community might otherwise condemn for defacing property with graffiti, and providing them with an acceptable outlet for their creative talents. In a statement that she provided on her website, Baca said that she has worked "to address social justice issues for ethnic neighborhoods." The mural project, which employed more than 1000 youths, led to the creation of more than 500 murals in neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Baca's artists were, in large part, teens whose work served to illustrate the uniqueness of their world. The result of Baca's efforts were murals and walls that reflected the community's diversity.


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