History of the Latino Arts InitiativeAcademic year 1993-94 was a year of student concern expressed through petitions, rallies and educational programming, related to Latina/o issues on the USC campus. La Raza Political Action Committee, a confederation of Chicana/o student organizations and individual students, requested the establishment of a Chicano Studies department and an outdoor mural to commemorate the life of Cesar Chavez.The Artist
In April of 1994, the University established a major in Chicano/Latino Studies as a part of the program in American Studies and Ethnicity in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. University President Sample also announced two Latino Arts Initiatives: an outdoor memorial to Cesar Chavez and an indoor mural depicting Latino contributions to the life of Southern California.
The Latino Arts Committee, with students, staff, faculty and alumni was established in the fall of 1994 and met throughout the next two years. Early on, the Committee established a Statement of Intent for the mural project and sent out a call for muralists to compete for the commission. After reviewing the qualifications and proposals of approximately 45 muralists the Committee selected Judith F. Baca as the chosen muralist.Arguably the foremost Chicana muralist in the world, Judith F. Baca is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of SPARC (The Social and Public Art Resource Center). Baca is known for her community-based mural creations and production and was a driving force in the creation of "The Great Wall of Los Angeles" along TUJUNGA WASH, "Cultural Explainers" and the "World Wall". SHe has held faculty positions at UC Irvine, UCLA, and the Monterey Bay campus of the California State University system. SPARC (310) 822-9560 and www.sparcmurals.orgThe ProcessBaca worked with her colleagues at SPARC and with USC faculty, staff, students and alumni/ae during the 1995-96 academic year. Baca conducted extensive discussions with the Committee and the students on the history and establishment of the Latino Arts Initiatives, and the relationship of the people to the land. Students constructed history into the images which represent this land and the indigenous and immigrant people who inhabit it. USC Archives, the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Trojan were all scoured for the proper icons. The mural was painted in Baca's studio in Venice and installed in Topping Student Center in August of 1996.The Statement of Intent
"...let us remember those who have died for justice; for they have given us life. Help us love even those who hate us; so we can change the world." - Cesar ChavezEl mapa de una vida-la cara, the face, a map of life. The struggle to live etches itself on the face in lines of character, giving to the public countenance a profound, terrible and awesome beauty. The face of Chicano art has been molded by social and political struggle and its beauty emanates from the human drama of this history. The face has often been a longstanding icon in Mexicano/Chicano art. Examples of this are the tripartite head of Aztec cosmology which gives way to the mestizo head of Armado Pena, the dramatic gaze of the Hupert Garcia's Frida Kahlo, or the auto-representational "Las Tres Marias" by Judy Baca. Gloria Anzaldua in the following excerpt calls for the fashioning of a new face, one that incorporates multiple races, cultures, and genders. And she is calling for new materials with which to fashion that face. In Latino, cultures, the mural has presented the most visible face of public art. This medium develops out of the great muralist movement in Mexico and out of the volatile concourse of the street. Given this context, the design for the mural will incorporate the sense of struggle that the metaphor of the face underscores and it will represent the varied history of the Latino peoples that gives this population its character.Borderlands Quote
Latino Arts Committee
Statement used to inspire Artist Call for mural."So, don't give me your tenets and your laws. Don't give me your lukewarm gods. What I want is an accounting with all three cultures - white, Mexican, Indian. I want freedom to care and chisel my own face, to staunch the bleeding with ashes, to fashion my own gods out of my entrails. And if going home is denied me then I will have to stand and claim my space, making a new culture- una cultura mestiza- with my own lumber, my own bricks and mortar, and my own feminist architecture."Dedication and Acknowledgements\
Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza
Chicana NovelistWe would like to thank all those people who made this mural a possibility: Judith F. Baca, Dr. Michael Jackson, David Crandall, Dr. Teresa Mckenna, Arturo Fribourg, Dr. Cesar Lopez and Adriana Chavarin-Lopez, the Latino Arts Committee, the University staff and faculty, SPARC, and to anyone else who made this dream a reality. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. We will continue to strive for a better representation of the Chicana/o, Hispana/o, and Latina/o community.
Special thanks to El Centro Chicano, American Studies & Ethnicity Department, Dr. Cherrey, Claude Zachary, the LSA Mural Educational Project Committee and LSA 2002-2003.
The history of the mural is one of great triumph, struggle, and controversy. Unfortunately, many USC students are unaware of its history, let alone the mural itself. The Latina/o Student Assembly (LSA) in Program Board in collaborative effort with the Mural Educational Project Committee want to expose, educate and execute actions towards bringing a greater awareness of an inspiring history to the USC student community at large. We are committed to bringing a sense of dignity to a lost and silenced history.
LSA commits itself towards the continued presence, education and advocacy of the mural.
Back to: Memoria de Nuestra Tierra page