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 - World Wall Established In Jerusalem

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One example of the effect of the World Wall was noted when it traveled to Jerusalem. The artists for this new section included an Israeli Jew, an Israeli Arab, and a Palestinian. A report in the New York Times related how, even though the artists worked well together, the many years of conflict could not be breached, especially between the Israeli Jew and the Palestinian. The Israeli Arab, Ahmed Bweerat, told the reporter that "throughout the work on the mural, I felt my role was as a go-between, to lower the fires on both sides."

Yet in spite of a mediator, the completion of this panel of the mural did not bring the hoped-for peaceful resolution to its artists. At its completion and at its first showing, the artists were bitterly divided about how each had represented his people. Yet in spite of these problems, Baca's goals for the World Wall might actually have had a positive result. At the conclusion of the interview, the three artists told the New York Times that they were planning another mural, "a mosaic of children's images to be placed, they hope, on a future Israeli-Palestinian border." Although the mural could not create peace, it might at least lead to a new dialogue and the promise of a future peace.

In addition to the work on the Great Wall, Baca has also been involved in several other mural projects. In 1988 the mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, asked Baca to develop a mural program similar to that used in developing the Great Wall of Los Angeles. The result was a program called, Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride, which included ninety new murals and involved nearly every ethnic group in Los Angeles.

Baca has also been involved in creating several other murals. In 1996 Baca created a nine-foot by 23-foot mural at the University of Southern California. Titled, La Memoria De Nuestra Tierra (Our Land Has Memory), this mural depicted the role of the land in the historical memory of the inhabitants. In addition to this work, Baca had several other projects in progress. In Durango, Colorado, and with the use of the Internet, Baca has helped to design another mural with the same name and theme, with the Southern Ute and the Chicano youth of Durango. The Durango mural, which will be placed on the side of a building, will be constructed of enamel tiles and will cover an area 20-feet by 35-feet. Also in Colorado, a fifty foot digital mural, again called La Memoria De Nuestra Tierra was created in 2000 for the central terminal of the Denver International Airport. The purpose of the airport mural was to depict the historical stratigraphy of the area. Back in California, Baca created a tile mural on the Venice Boardwalk in 2001. The Venice mural consisted of 15 tile murals that depicted the history of the area.

In a project that began in 2002, Baca has once again returned to The Great Wall of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, after nearly twenty years of neglect and exposure to smog, sun, rain, and floods, The Great Wall was in a serious state of disrepair. With paint chipping and peeling, the mural needed restoration. The New York Times, quoted Baca as saying that the large scale of murals are about "making it the voice of people who were excluded from history."

With that voice in need of repair, Baca set out to help raise some of the projected $500,000 needed to restore the mural. In addition to the repairs, Baca has planned to add another forty years of history to the wall, which would bring the history of the wall to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Since 1980 Baca has been a professor of fine arts at the University of California. She has concurrently held two academic appointments as vice chair of UCLA's Cesar Chavez Center and as professor of art for world arts and cultures at UCLA since 1996.

Selected works


"Whose Monument Where? Public Art in a Many-Cultured Society," Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, edited by Suzanne Lacy, Bay Press, 1995.


Danzas Indigenas (Indigenous Dance), Baldwin Park Metrolink Commuter Rail Station, 1993.

La Memoria De Nuestra Tierra (Our Land Has Memory), University of Southern California, 1996.

La Memoria De Nuestra Tierra (Our Land Has Memory), Denver International Airport, 2000.

15 Digital Tile Murals, Venice, California Boardwalk, 2001.

La Memoria De Nuestra Tierra (Our Land Has Memory), Durango Mural Project, Durango, Colorado, in progress.

The Great Wall of Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley Tujunga Wash, a flood control channel, begun in 1976 and still in progress.

The World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear, a portable exhibition, on-going.



Lacy, Suzanne, editor, Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, Bay Press, 1995.

Telgen, Diane, and Jim Kamp, Latinas: Women of Achievement, Visible Ink Press, 1996, pp. 25-30.


The New York Times, May 26, 2002, pp. 29, 34.

—Sheri Elaine Metzger

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