Consider the ever-changing history of Los Angeles, a city that seems so familiar to everyone because of its iconic images. We’ve seen Los Angeles grow and transform through images on screen and as lyrics in music. Now consider the entire history of Los Angeles as a 2,754 foot long mural located in the Tujunga Flood Control Channel of the San Fernando Valley.
This enormous project was coordinated by the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) and after five summers was completed by a team of local youth community artists in 1984. Inspired by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco, The Great Wall of Los Angeles was designed by Judith Baca and features images of the rich and diverse history of LA from prehistoric times to 1960. Although conceived as a beautification project, The Great Wall, like most community murals, created a new cultural platform for smaller communities to engage in a shared history.
From colonialism to the Civil Rights Movement, The Great Wall of Los Angeles depicts the deep cultural background of the city and emphasizes the many minority groups that make Los Angeles the beautiful and bold city that it is today. It offers unique perspectives of struggles and persevering in otherwise lost times, revealing important historical events that often get overlooked. “Inspired by a vision of communal space that expressed a shared history of Los Angeles, Baca developed a design that incorporated many of the controversial issues and racial conflicts of Los Angeles’ past in hopes of teaching future generations about compassion and understanding” (Prieto).
“Perhaps most overwhelming to me about the Great Wall experience has been learning of the courage of individuals in history who endured, spoke out, and overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It was true both of the people we painted about and of ourselves the Mural Makers.” – Judith Baca
For more images of The Great Wall: Great Wall Retrospective (KCET)
Restoration and expansion of such a massive project takes time. I propose two things: 1. Contacting Judith Baca, and 2. Visiting the mural. What objects and symbols were important enough to these groups of people that they are painted into history? How can we recreate 2D images as 3D avatars?
Map to The Great Wall of Los Angeles.
Prieto, Angel. “The Great Wall of Los Angeles.” D Communities: LA River. KCET, n.d. Web. <http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/lariver/convergence/the-great-wall-of-los-angeles-1.html>.
“The Great Wall of Los Angeles.” SPARC in LA. Social and Public Art Resource Center, n.d. Web. <http://sparcinla.org/programs/the-great-wall-mural-los-angeles/>.
“The Great Wall of Los Angeles: The History and Art of the Great Wall.” Judith Baca, 21 May 2012. Web. <http://www.judybaca.com/now/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=151&Itemid=98>.