Judy Baca Mural Rededication

La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra: California 1996

Judy Baca’s Mural Re-dedication Hosted:
September 30th, 2010 from 6pm-9pm
6pm – 7pm Mingling/ Opening of Reception
7pm – Official Program
8p-8:30p Closing of Reception
Judy Baca
César López or Adriana Chavarin
Billy Vela (Director of USC El Centro Chicano)
Arturo Fribourg (former chair of the USC Latino Arts Committee)

Click on the link below to watch a documentary about Judy Baca and her wonderful vision behind this USC mural.
A WORLD OF ART: Works in Progress

La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra: California 1996
10ft x 30ft acrylic on canvas maroflouge application at the University of Southern California for the Norman
Topping Student Center.

Judith F. Baca

About The Mural:
Land is the essential framework and focus of the mural. This image of the land is taken from a photograph of the northern part of Los Angles. Often an image in the work of Judith F. Baca, the land here demonstrates its fertility, as it stretches into the distance as a source of food for the people. The river, flowing from the kiva, changes to a freeway and then returns to its natural state to help to sustain the land. In this mural, the land has been stripped away, showing in historical stratification the story of itself and the people who dwell on it.

Central to the mural is a kiva. The kiva symbolizes the indigenous spiritual and nurturing elements of the Chicano/Latino culture. It is here portrayed as a womb-like entrance to the mural. From the kiva flows the river which nourishes the land.

Above the kiva is a cornerstone that makes reference to a symbol located above the entrance to Doheny Library on the USC campus which depicts a teacher and students. For this mural, the teacher has been portrayed pointing out to the students the indigenous hieroglyphics that translate to the message, “healing the river through strength.” This image is repeated in the shape of the river itself and again in the earrings of the goddess. On the hearth of the kiva are three kernels of maize which represent the now-diminishing diversity of vegetation– and, metaphorically, people– throughout the land. Flanking the kiva are bundles of maize, or corn, and the hides of animals which underscore the kiva’s role as the source of sustenance.

On the right center of the mural there is an image of a conquistador’s helmeted head in a circle with inward-pointing lines. When verbal language was not shared among the people of the Americas, pictures were used to communicate universally. This image carries the message of containing the “conquistadors.”

To the right, the sleeping land is personified as a giant and represented by a woman, then a man and then a woman again. The giant awakes and is enraged by the border that has been embedded into its back. The image of the border reflects portions of the actual U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, USA-Tijuana, Mexico that are made out of used landing strip materials recycled from the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s. The border can be traced across the land to the 4th Street Bridge, where also from the immigration depicted is a man running from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Not in the final image, but in the original drawing, there was a lynching from the 4th Street Bridge that dated back to the mid-1890’s, which was removed at the request of the University. The goddess awakens, recognizes the need to reclaim the land and lets blood flow from her veins so the people can take back the land.

Given life from the blood streaming from the veins of the awakening giant are those artists and activists who have helped bring about mural art and the recapturing of the land. Included among the figures are three of the USC students partly responsible for the commission and creation of the mural, Juan Whyte, César López and Adriana Chavarín. Also pictured are David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, pioneers in mural art. Images in this mural have been taken from the murals of other artists or from the media representing activists at the University of California, Irvine, by the United Farm Workers, and during the Chicano Moratorium. Collectively, these artists/activists continue to bring about change in the Chicano/Latino community, and represent the notion depicted in one of the placards, “We are the blood of the earth.”

In the far lower corner sits Torch Macaw, heir to the Mayan Kingdom, who is historically portrayed with his eyes gouged out. This practice was designed to symbolically rob power from artworks and those they portrayed. In this mural, Torch Macaw has been given back his eyes, symbolizing a restored ability to view the power and the representations in this mural.

Above Torch Macaw are the brands of los ranchos. Before the 1870’s, the Los Angeles area was composed of such ranchos, granted to European and Mexican settlers. USC is adjacent to the former Rancho La Cienega. Other ranchos represented include Palos Verdes, Los Verdugos, Santiago de Santa Ana, La Ballona and the former mission of San Fernando. Above the brands is an image from a photograph of the vendedor, buried in the historical layers of the region. A visible member of Sonora Town as well as present day communities, the ice cream seller symbolizes a strong work ethic among the Mexicano/Latino community. Above him in the strata is a view of Sonora Town with a special rendering of a theater that was on Commercial Street. Left to right, the buildings show the devolution of Sonora Town to an increasingly unhealthy environment.
Below Sonora Town in the bend of the river is a depiction of the Silver Dollar Bar in Whittier where Los Angles Times political journalist, Ruben Salazar, was shot allegedly on purpose by law enforcement officials during the Chicano Moratorium in 1970. Below the river is the image of two Chumash, from a photograph taken in the early 1900’s at the Santa Barbara Mission. The corpses on the left in front of the mission image honor another muralist and reflect the notion of the missions as “houses of death” because of the disease and mistreatment brought by the Europeans.

– USC Latino Arts Committee, 1996

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