About Imagining America
Imagining America is a national consortium of colleges and universities
committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design.
Public scholarship joins serious intellectual endeavor with a
commitment to public practice and public consequence. It includes:
•Scholarly and creative work jointly planned and carried out by university and community partners;
•Intellectual work that produces a public good;
•Artistic, critical, and historical work that contributes to public debates;
Efforts to expand the place of public scholarship in higher education itself,
including the development of new programs and research on the successes
of such efforts.
Imagining America (IA) recognizes the reciprocal
benefits of community-based scholarship and practice. Communities
benefit from the engagement of faculty and students whose research and
participation support their efforts.
Annual conferences are crucial to the work that Imagining
America does. These events allow public scholars in the cultural
disciplines to form a network, to share best practices, to visit
project sites, and to gain inspiration and motivation for their work.
The conferences take place in a workshop format.
These conferences are also the site where the network outside IA’s consortium comes to gather and work.
Judy Baca’s Keynote Address
On Friday, October 3rd 2008 Judy Baca delivered the Imagining America Keynote Address, entitled “La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra: Creating Sites of Public Memory.” In it she discussed her legacy; the half-mile Great Wall of Los Angeles, “the tattoo on the scar where the river once ran,” as well as SPARC’s additional plethora of projects both past and future. The video of her address is available below.
Questions and Answers from the Conference:
Finding musical common ground
BY ADAM POCKROSS
What’s in a name?
In the case of Planet Siqueiros Pe“a — an evening of socially conscious traditional world music, contemporary musical styles and spoken word at the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice — a name tells a whole lot.
Planet Siqueiros Pe“a is itself the derivative of two other names: the revolutionary Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros combined with traditional South American musical venues called “Pe“as.”
“The Pe“a phenomena emerged during the 1950s in South America, especially Chile and Argentina,” says Marta Ramirez, one of the founders of the evening and a former student of Siqueiros. “These popular gatherings of rural folk musicians would come together in mountain villages playing their traditional rhythms and singing about their everyday life.
“Later, in times of repressive governments, poets and artists were not allowed to assemble. The Pe“as moved into private homes where musicians discreetly shared with family and friends, their food and wine, interweaving their songs of despair and hope for change.”
It is in that spirit, and the spirit of Siqueiros himself, that Planet Siqueiros Pe“a began.
“David Alfaro Siqueiros’s commitment to change through monumental art inspired many young Chicanas and Chicanos of the 1970s,” continues Ramirez. “In the traditional downtown Placita Olvera, one of Siqueiros’s murals, America Tropical re-appeared under the whitewash that censored the mural, painted in 1930. It was like an apparition that symbolized for many muralists, the renaissance of art for social change.”
One of these young muralists was Judith F. Baca, who co-founded SPARC in 1976 and is now its artistic director. In the center’s “Backspace,” Baca directs a creative digital mural lab where she oversees the UCLA/ SPARC Cesar Chavez Digital Mural Lab community partnership, which she also founded.
The lab serves as an inspirational backdrop to the Planet Siqueiros Pe“a, which kicks off its second season from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, January 24th, at SPARC, 685 Venice Blvd.
The opening act calls itself, appropriately, the Santa Monica College Guitar Ensemble. Louise Quevedo, who has been going to Pe“as since she was a teenager, helped organize the trio of students from the Music Department.
“It’s interesting because Edgar [Zaragoza] has a classical background, and then on the other hand we have Javier [Kistte], whose background is flamenco,” says Quevedo. “And then myself, I have a background with Latin American folk styles. Together, we’re learning to speak to each other in our different genres, through our instruments. We’re learning the strengths of all the different styles. They’re all beautiful but have different flavors. We’re trying to find common ground musically.”
Sounds like an emerging theme, no?
The headliners of the evening are The Lefteous Sisters, featuring Angi Neff, Ann Polhemus, Ericka Verba and Lisa Hornung, four friends who sing songs with meaning.
“The style of music that we enjoy singing and playing comes out of the folk tradition of purposeful songs that tell great stories, take us out of ourselves for a moment, ask questions of conscience and, hopefully, sound beautiful,” says Angi Neff.
For the Planet Siqueiros Pe“a, the Sisters have come up with a special set list.
“We’ve come up with a set list of original and traditional songs (sung mostly in English) that not only reflect our current challenges as a people, but also revisit challenges and struggles of the past,” says Neff. “We hope that the word ‘folk’ doesn’t scare anyone away as it is a time-honored style that continues to tug at music lovers’ hearts, generation after generation.”
But when pressed as to why their music is inspirational, Neff deflects.
“I think the question is ‘How has SPARC been inspirational to our music?'” she says. “This is a wonderful venue, created by lovers of rich, diverse cultures, and we have been inspired to come up with songs that beg to be sung in an art space and environment committed to social justice and human rights.”
It sounds like an evening that is true to its name.
Information, (310) 822-9560, www.sparcmurals.org/.
Taken from ABC 7 website:
THE GREAT WALL OF L.A.
The Great Wall of Los Angeles is a cultural landmark and the longest mural in the world at 2,754 feet long. It is located in the San Fernando Valley, north of the Ventura Freeway, between the 405 and 170. It was produced under the direction of Professor Judith F Baca and is currently being restored by the Social Public Art and Resource Center. Plans include the expansion of the Great Wall of Los Angeles to add new decades of history to the giant narrative work. UCLA students of the Beyond the Mexican Mural course taught by Professor Baca and the Digital Mural Lab have been researching and designing new segments for the mural which will extend into the 6o’s 70’s, 80’s and 90’s of California History.
The mural, located in the Tujunga Wash Flood Control Channel, was begun in 1974 and was continued, decade-by-decade, over five summers. It brought together 400 youth and their families as well as artists, oral historians, ethnologists, scholars, and hundreds of community members from the many, diverse enclaves of Los Angeles. At half a mile long, it is one of the country’s largest monuments to inter-racial harmony and a landmark pictorial representation of the history of ethnic peoples of California from prehistoric times to the 1950’s.
This summer, alumni of the Great Wall youth teams (now parents with children the age they were when they first participated) will come together once again to lead the next generation in its restoration and continuation of the historical narrative, which highlights the contributions made by immigrants to the building of our country and state. The California Cultural and Historical Endowment has designated 1.2 million dollars for the Great Wall of Los Angeles’ restoration efforts. SPARC and Professor Baca are also collaborating with wHY Architecture to build a new, green, interpretive bridge over the Wall designed as an artist and architect collaboration. This green bridge is built, in part, from the debris and detritus of the LA River and will reconnect east to west, school to neighborhood. It both memorializes and reestablishes the relationship between the history of the Los Angeles River and the history of the people of Los Angeles.
Artistic Representatives from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Morocco Visit the Digital Mural Lab
INTERNATIONAL VISITOR LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
ART AS SOCIAL AND POLITICAL COMMENTARY
A Regional Project for North Africa
These visitors are invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
Primary Program Contact: Ms. Kim Ngoc Le, Senior Program Officer, International Visitors
Council of Los Angeles, 3540 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 910, Los Angeles, CA 90010;
Telephone – (213) 388-1428 ext. 22; Fax – (213) 388-5879; Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of State Program Contacts: Ms. Colleen Fleming and Ms. Ericka Moten, Office of International Visitors; Telephone – (202) 453-8608 or (202) 453-8609; Email -email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Accompanied By: Mr. Wael Abdelsattar, U.S. Interpreter; Ms. Rana Raad, U.S. Interpreter; Mr.
Nabil Tohme, U.S. Interpreter
January 12 – 30, 2009
•The Department of State has outlined the following specific objectives for the project:
•Examine freedom of speech as a constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment right in the United States;
•Explore the role of art as an expression of freedom of speech;
•Illustrate the power and potential of art in shaping contemporary issues and values, and in building civil society;
•Examine various sociopolitical art forms and their conceptual inspirations and effects and;
•Demonstrate the diversity of American artistic and cultural traditions and how this diversity contributes to a dynamic political system.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS:
Mr. Alaa Ahmed Abou Zeid ABDEL AAL
Dr. (Mrs.) Mariam Gaid FORHAM BOTTROS
Lecturer, Sculpture Department
Faculty of Fine Arts, South Valley University
Iraq Mr. Mohammed Rasim KASIM AL-KHAFAJI
Chairman Tawasin Cultural Society
Libya Dr. (Mr.) Suleiman Ali BEN KAFU
Head, Mass Media Department
Morocco Mr. Omar LEBBATE
Hakim Hip Hop Group
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION Egypt
Name: Mr. Alaa Ahmed Abou Zeid ABDEL AAL
Present Position: Radio Broadcaster
Concurrent Position: Correspondent, Arab News Agency
Education/Training: B.A., Media and Press, Souhag University, 1991
Memberships: Egyptian Writer’s Syndicate; Cairo Atelier.
Publications: Short Stories:
Address: 61 Hamada Ajami Street
Off Queen Street
Telephone: (202) 012-4241-149
Languages: Arabic (primary)
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
Other Travel: Kuwait
Professional Interests: Mr. Alaa Abu Abdelaal is both a news reporter and a writer whose publications explore the issues and challenges faced by the people in Upper Egypt. As a news journalist, he reports on many different issues, including cultural life and the condition of human rights in Egypt, the coverage of which has earned him a creativity award.
In his novels and short stories, Mr. Abdelaal discusses the two biggest challenges that face Upper Egypt: economic underdevelopment and religious strife between Muslims and Copts. Mr. Abdelaal has won a number of literary awards including the Al Sawy Wheel Award for best short story and the Sawiris Foundation Literary Award for best creative novel. He continues to write in the hopes that policy makers who read his pieces will be moved to convey his thoughts to the public and begin working to solve their problems.
Name: Dr. (Mrs.) Mariam Gaid FORHAM BOTTROS
Present Position: Lecturer, Sculpture Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, South
Previous Positions: Instructor
Education/Training: Ph.D., Helwan University, 2006
Memberships: Artists Syndicate in Egypt;
Asala Syndicate for Arts.
Publications: Artistic Sculpture Works
Address: 20 Khidr Street
Telephone: (202) 012-109-4668
Languages: Arabic (primary)
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
Other Travel: Italy
Professional Interests: Dr. Mariam Forham Bottros is an instructor and sculptor at South Valley University. She is very interested in using art as a means to illustrate the social situation in the Luxor and Qena areas of Egypt. She instructs approximately 100 students – many of whom come from underserved areas. She hopes to explore the ways in which art influences and reflects contemporary situations.
Name: Mr. Mohammed Rasim KASIM AL-KHAFAJI
Present Position: Chairman, Tawasin Cultural Society
Education/Training: B.A., Fine Arts, Baghdad University;
Course Certificate, Cultural Management, Goethe Institute, Germany.
Memberships: Iraqi Plastic Art Association;
Union of Iraqi Journalists.
Publications: Poems and articles about critiquing art published in Arabic and Iraqi newspapers
Address: 2nd Floor, Building 77, Street 13
Quarter 102, Abu Nwas Street
Languages: Arabic (primary), English
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
Other Travel: Austria, Germany, Jordan, Syria, Turkey
Professional Interests: Mr. Mohammed Rasim Kasim Al-Khafiaji is the chairman of the Tawasin Cultural Society, an arts and cultural organization
established in 2004 in Baghdad. Mr. Kasim leads an organization that is one of the cultural forces in the rebuilding of Iraq’s civil society. With hundreds of members, the Tawasin Society continues to promote equal rights between the genders, encourage free speech and dissenting opinion, and advance peace through the arts despite societal pressures and security threats. He hopes to examine best practices in running effective cultural organizations.
Name: Dr. Suleiman Ali BEN KAFU
Present Position: Head, Mass Media Department, Al-Fattah University
Concurrent Position: Head, Academic Exams Department, Al-Fattah University;
Lecturer, Al-Fattah University.
Previous Positions: Committee Head, Short Films Festival, Tripoli;
Committee Head, 17th Theatre Festival; Head, Evaluating Exhibition Association, 2000 – 2007;
Supervised more than 20 graduation projects.
Education/Training: Ph.D. and M.S., Sofia University, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1998;
B.S., Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, U.S., 1985;
Winner, Gold Medal, Salaam Festival, Morocco;
Winner of more than 10 local and regional prizes.
Memberships: Artists Union of Tripoli and Libya; National Association of Youth Care;
Andalusia Association of Youth Care; Aljeel Alsaaed Band for Theatrical Acting;
Libya Cinema Association; North African Artists Union.
Publications: Published many articles in local newspapers and Albohooth Al-elamya (Mass Media Research) regarding cinematography; Co-authored, Interior Design (Part I) and Interior Design (Part II), academic books for art high schools published at the national level, 2001; Animation Techniques (book to be released).
Address: Hay Al-Andalus
Behin Alarousy Mosque
Languages: Arabic (primary), English
U.S. Travel: Flagstaff and Washington, DC
Other Travel: Bulgaria, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey.
Professional Interests: Dr. Suleiman Ali Ben Kafu is the Head of the Mass Media Department at Al-Fattah University. In addition to teaching at the University, he has lectured on animation and cinema at various seminars and workshops. Having performed in 16 plays, Dr. Ben Kafu also has a long history of performing on Libyan television, including the documentary, Abdullah Wa Algaba. He has taken a behind-the-scenes role as Art Director for Libyan and Greek television programs. Dr. Ben Kafu has participated in more than 13 art exhibitions, representing Libya in Morocco, Bulgaria and Egypt. Additionally, he has exhibited his artwork in Washington, DC and Flagstaff, Arizona. His diverse background in Fine Arts enables him to train the next generation of Libyan artists in social and political expression.
Name: Mr. Omar LEBBATE
Present Position: Manager, Hakim Hip Hop Group
Concurrent Position: Artistic Advisor, Festivals in Meknes;
President, Bab Mansour Youth.
Previous Positions: Soccer Player (first division, amateur), 2004 – 2006
Education/Training: Degree, Computer Science, ELITE 3000, Meknes, 2002;
English Study, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, 2003 – 2004;
Certificate, NGO Management, Cinema and Audiovisual Institute,
Memberships: Development Advisor, Reseau Maillage Maroc (Network Morocco)
Publications: Press article ready for publication, “When I Was Your Age”
Address: No. 4571 Rue 42 Oujah Arous
Telephone: (212-64) 31-25-27
Languages: Arabic (primary), French
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
Professional Interests: Mr. Omar Lebbate is the President of Bab Mansour Youth Association in Meknes. In his role at this neighborhood association, he is very active in civil society, generating activities for the youth in the area debilitated by poverty and unemployment. Past association activities have included participating in and organizing music festivals, travel, exchange forums and community service projects. Bab Mansour Youth Association joined the nationwide Maillage network of youth NGOs, and Mr. Lebbate has become the network’s development advisor. He has also organized break dance competitions and hip hop concerts in Meknes.
On December 13, 2008, the City of San Jose celebrated the grand opening of the renovated Roosevelt Community Center. The center commissioned artist Scape Martinez to create the majority of its interior and exterior artwork. Over the one and one-half years it took Martinez to complete the project, he was assisted by the UCLA SPARC César Chavez Digital/Mural Lab. Judy Baca and staff helped to conceptualize the framework of the process, oversaw overall production of the digital aspect and provided support for installation.
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.
CESAR E. CHAVEZ MONUMENT
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
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
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
Thursday, June 24, 9:15 am – 10:15 am
The Public Art Network is pleased to recognize Judy Baca, founder and artistic director of SPARC: Social & Public Art Resource Center, as the recipient of the 2010 Public Art Network Award. After accepting her award, Ms. Baca will also make a keynote presentation.
Building a Vibrant Future for the Arts!
Judy Baca is a native Angeleno, a visual artist, arts activist, community leader, and educator. Baca is best known for her large-scale public organizing murals. Her art involves extensive community dialogues and participation. Baca founded the first City of Los Angeles mural program in 1974. In 1976, she founded the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice, CA. SPARC is a socially relevant, activist minded and spirited organization, and at the heart of what it believes is that art is a tool for social change and self-transformation. Baca’s true signature piece is The Great Wall of Los Angeles.
As a site of public memory, the Great Wall is one of Los Angeles’ true cultural landmarks and one of the country’s most respected and largest monuments to interracial harmony produced with the participation with more than 400 inner-city youth, 40 ethnic historians, and hundred of community residents.
Baca and SPARC continue to work on The World Wall: A Vision of The Future Without Fear, which consists of 8 10 ft. x 30 ft. portable mural panels on canvas. This 240 ft. mural addresses contemporary issues of global importance: war, peace, cooperation, interdependence, and spiritual growth. As The World Wall tours the world, eight additional panels by artists from eight countries are added to complete this visual tribute to the “Global Village-An Arena for Dialogue.” To date, Finland, Russia, Palestine/Israel, and Mexico panels have been added; Canada is currently being worked on.
To advance the field of muralism, in 1996 Baca created the UCLA/SPARC Cesar Chavez Digital/Mural Lab, a research, teaching, and production facility based at SPARC. She serves
as a full professor in the UCLA Chicano/a Studies Department and World Arts and Cultures Department. She is currently working on the Cesar Chavez Memorial at San Jose State University; the Robert F. Kennedy monument at the Old Ambassador Hotel site, which will become the RFK Learning Center for K-12; the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in San Diego; and a digital painted mural for the Richmond Arts Center.