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Transformations Created by the Artwork

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Transformations Created by the Artwork

Spiritual and material changes can only be enacted with the understanding of all the previous layers of meaning.


Baldwin Park Top View
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Danzas Indígenas

This Plaza, its arch and the 400 feet of platform along with the metate benches, designed by artist Judith F. Baca, are collectively an artwork entitled Danzas Indígenas (Indigenous Dances). For the city of Baldwin Park (Los Angeles County).

Beginning with the Two Planters Containing the Oak and the Cactus at the entrance to the plaza which complete the traditional cross in mission design and
represent the mixing of the two cultures, Native America and Spanish. The floor plan in the Plaza is of the Mission San Gabriel. The platform floor patterns contain the site plans of the five closest missions of the nine missions in the California chain. Woven over and through these designs are the elliptical shapes of two lines of Dance Steps of the Gabrielinos and Chumash tribes. There are five languages in the text of the floor patterns: English, Spanish, Gabrielino, Chumash and Luiseño


Baldwin Park




 The two sides of the Arch represent the Past and the Present. On the past side the pictograph reproduced is of Gabrielino origin depicting the passage of a young woman into womanhood. Below it is a pictograph designed by the artist, about the ending of the mission era and the coming of a time of harmony. On the Present side of the arch, language of the residents of Baldwin Park is used to portray their hopes for the future of the city. The statements sandblasted into the surface were gathered in public dialogues and private interviews conducted by the artist.

The Stone Prayer Mound is placed in the position where the altar would normally be found in the mission San Gabriel floor plan. It is dedicated to Toypurina, a young 23-year old Gabrielino who was taken before the Spanish Inquisition after leading a revolt against this mission in 1785. She was banished from the Mission San Gabriel, the site of her tribal lands, setting her spirit to wander forever, according to Native American beliefs. The prayer mound represents a welcome resting place for Toypurina’s spirit.

Native language text can be found throughout the platform written in the first person and ending in the last metate with the words Memory and Will Power which is the basis for preservation of any culture and an important teaching of the Chumash.


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