Kim Martinez wraps up her residence at the UCLA/SPARC DML


Kim Martinez in SPARC’s DML 2008 

SPARC’s DML was honored to have University of Utah Associate Professor Kim Martinez as its Artist in Residence September 28th to November 14th of 2008.  Kim occupies a myriad of public roles:  human rights activist, community volunteer, engaging teacher and socially responsible visual artist.  She is an active artist, muralist, and Associate Professor at the University of Utah.  She is the recipient of the 2003 Salt Lake City Mayors Visual Artist Award, recognizing her community involvement and contribution to the Utah Department of Corrections, Veterans Administration, Utah Hispanic Women’s Association, First Step House and Art Access/Art Positive! In 2006 she received the University of Utah, College of Fine Arts, Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, Research, and Service. She has received fellowships from The Sara Lee Foundation, Ragsdale, Vermont Studio Center, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and a National Endowment For The Arts-Utah Arts Council. 

The César Chávez Monument is Unveiled in San Jose State University

The Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice
By Judith F. Baca

“It is not Cesar’s personality that is to be remembered,
but his ideals and beliefs”

A Pathway Towards Change
Cesar Chavez’s greatest achievement was his life itself, in which his
deepest beliefs were carried out daily through his actions to improve
the conditions of the campesino. This inspired hundreds and thousands
of people to join his efforts to achieve social justice, and created
actual change where many believed it impossible.  This monument serves
as a sacred reminder to subsequent generations of the importance of
living a life at the center of one’s values and beliefs, as did Cesar

The Arch and Eagle
Modeled on a Mayan corbelled arch combined with mission colonial
arches, this site pays tribute to Chavez’s respective Spanish and
indigenous roots while referencing the conquest. The plaza is treated
with colors derived from the Pre-Hispanic Codices, while the arch is
finished with a pearlescent white to create a sensibility of reflective
light within the architecture. Reflective light is also an important
aspect of the United Farm Workers (UFW) eagle on the face of the
monument. Originally designed by Richard Chavez for the UFW’s flag as a
symbol to unite the people, the stacked glass eagle is composed of a
reversed pyramid and provides the central element of the “triumphant
arch.” The arch faces east to west receiving the daily movement of the
sun through the passageway representing a rite of passage from worker
to activist.

The Mosaic Pathway
Around the arch is a circular mosaic path representing the many
pilgrimages taken by thousands of people during the marches. Four
granite stones replicate this circle with important quotes from Chavez
beginning with hope –“Soon the grapes will be sweet once again,” to
education and then action –“There is no such thing as defeat in

The Images
In the interior of the arch, the central mural depicts a contemplative
Chavez as a farm worker leader and organizer looking over the
California fields where the historic grape strike took place, with the
farm workers represented metaphorically as twisted vines. Above in a
cloud, Chavez is joined by Robert F. Kennedy as he breaks a 25-day fast
accompanied by his wife Helen and his mother Juana. The image
highlights fasting as a cornerstone to his philosophy of non-violence.
La Virgen de Guadalupe, the indigenous patron saint of Mexico and the
revered symbol of the farm workers, blesses the struggle with roses.
Lurking in the sky, a calaca (skeleton) represents the ever present
need for vigilance, to ensure decent conditions for the workers and
reminds us that the struggle is not over in the fields.

In keeping with his humility, the exterior of the arch depicts not
Chavez, but two campesinos bent over in the fields of California. One
of Chavez’s most important achievements was the abolishment of the
short hoe, which was responsible for many injuries to workers. The hoe
is featured in gold to commemorate this fact.

The opposite side of the arch includes two important personages to the
movement: Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and
Chavez’s partner in the movement’s endeavors, with one hand evoking her
powers to persuade growers to amend the unjust treatment of the farm
workers, and with the other hand representing the power of non-violent
actions through marches and boycotts. Mahatma Gandhi is also depicted
in the fields to honor him as Chavez’s inspiration for the real
possibility of social change through non-violence and spiritual

Around the monument, Venetian tile patterns represent the pilgrimage as
a major movement strategy for the field workers, as well as the many
marches taken by the UFW interwoven with grape vines.

It is my hope that this arch will offer an introspective and meditative
space for viewers to receive its message. May all those passing through
it experience the passage from hope and inspiration, to education, and
finally, to action for social and environmental justice.

Judith F. Baca
Artist and Designer
Cesar E Chavez Monument
© 2008

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