Art with Latin Roots: Contributing to US History

Judy Baca 1 of 6

Mexican-American Judith Francisca Baca, born Sept. 20, 1946, in Huntington Park, Calif., is an artist, activist, and professor of fine arts at the University of California. She is best known for her role as designer and director of the mural project "The Great Wall of Los Angeles," which is one of the longest murals in the world. [It is 2,754 feet long.]

She attended California State University, Northridge, where she obtained her Bachelor's of Arts [1969] and Master's [1979] in art. But creating pieces to be showcased in galleries didn't really interest her - she wanted her family and neighbors to see her work. She knew they had never been, and might never visit, an art gallery so she decided to present her art in a different way.

In 1970 Baca brought together members from different gangs in the neighborhood to paint the mural, "Las Vistas Nuevas" [New Views]. The mural was a way for the Mexican-Americans to express their culture and reflect their neighborhood. Baca used this mural technique more than once to help mediate gang rivals and bring people together.  

Learn more at Judy Baca's website.

Trina Otero • Culture & Politics Writer