Judy Baca is an artist, educator, scholar, activist and community arts pioneer and CSUN Alumna (Art ’69, Art Education MA ’80). Noted for her inspired ability to teach and her creative educational and community-based art methodologies, Baca has stood for art in service of equity for all people. She is a lesson for us on the integration of ethics and creative expression and devotion to a creative practice that is committed to public education and pedagogical processes.
Her C2 lecture, Excavating Land and Memory Through Public Art, will focus on her artistic practice of community engagement and cultural development.
Baca’s public arts initiatives reflect the lives and concerns of populations that have been historically disenfranchised, including women, the working poor, youth, the elderly and immigrant communities. SPARC’s projects throughout Los Angeles, as well as in national and international venues, have revitalized and energized impoverished neighborhoods. SPARC’s conviction that voices need to be heard and that a vital commons is critical to a healthy civil society find form in Baca’s work, which channels the creative process of monumental mural design to transform physical and social environments. Baca says:
“I want to produce artwork that has meaning beyond simple decorative values. I hope to use public space to create public voice, and consciousness about the presence of people who are often the majority of the population but who may not be represented in any visual way. By telling their stories we are giving voice to the voiceless and visualizing the whole of the American story while creating sites of public memory.”
Baca’s murals are as much about the process of creation as the visual result. She begins from the awareness that the land has memory. She seeks interactive relationships among history, people and place to mark the dignity of hidden historical precedents, restore connections and stimulate new relationships.
Baca’s monuments rise up out of neighborhoods, rather than being imposed upon them, and are created with the people who live there. She says, “Collaborative art brings a range of people into conversations about their visions for their neighborhoods and their nations. Finding a place for those ideas in monuments that are constructed of the soil and spirit of the people is the most challenging task for public artists in this time.”