Migration of the Golden People, CARECEN Mural, 2002.

In collaboration with CARECEN community and youth from Pico-Union neighborhood and SPARC and Judy Baca.

CARECEN community and youth from the Pico-Union neighborhood in Los Angeles, CA, participated in a 14 week-long workshop for the creation of the first mural about the Central American Migration into the United States.

The first significant public work created in Los Angeles about the migration of Central Americans into the Pico Union district of Los Angeles represent the partnerships with community groups who wish to visualize the issues affecting their community. Regarding the experience at CARECEN Angela Sanbrano Former Executive Director of CARECEN writes, “SPARC’s work parallels the organization’s belief in art as a reflection of the lives of America’s diverse ethnic communities. Especially heartening has been the organization’s development of a community approach in the creation of art for the betterment of society. SPARC’s work with CARECEN empowered participating youth, enabling them not only to play an active role in the decision process, but also to work with their parents, professional artists, ethnologists and scholars. This is an experience that has enriched their lives while creating meaningful change in the Central American community itself. By encouraging students to take responsibility for their community and their own individual development, SPARC has enabled them to grow in new and exciting ways.”

The resulting mural emphasizes the 1970s and 1980s, the period when most of the Central American populations in Los Angeles were forced to flee their homelands. The focus of this work is the people of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, the three regions that suffered oppression and civil war during this period (in the case of Nicaragua due to the disastrous effects of U.S. intervention), and where the majority of the Central American refugees in the United States have come. The mural reflects the terror of military oppression, but also forcefully expresses a determination to resist, whether by taking up arms or by joining a silent protest march. Migration of the Golden People reminds us of those who died in this struggle and of the continued energetic effort to speak on behalf of the oppressed. This is the story of those who founded CARECEN in 1983, and of their families. All were scarred by oppression and civil war, but remain dedicated to the empowerment of their community. This commitment to community empowerment has shaped the content of the mural. CARECEN is dedicated to the empowerment of Central Americans in Los Angeles; to the defense of their civil and human rights; and to building bridges between the Salvadoran community and the people of El Salvador.

Migration of the Golden People, CARECEN Mural, 2021, digital print on gold aluminum substrate, 95 x 230 in. Installation view of JUDY BACA: Memorias de Nuestra Tierra, A Retrospective, Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA, 2021.