For the last six weeks, I’ve been driven back and forth from San Diego to USC in Los Angeles. In trying to cut my commute, I started finding short cuts via side streets. As I drive these new paths, my mind wonders away from the road and towards the images I find on the walls of the buildings along San Pedro Street. I notice some graffiti, advertisements, and local store signs, but accompanying those images are beautiful murals. Images depicting “La Virgencita,” providing the community with protection, others telling stories of the neighborhood, some highlighting our Chicano history, and many more celebrating political and cultural figures like Emiliano Zapata, Cesar Chavez, o Che Guevara.
Thinking about it, I’ve always been drawn to publicly-displayed mural. For years I was just unaware of the beauty, significance, and mastery of this type of art. In my own community, I’d walk to the liquor to get a soda or candy, and take the mural on the wall for granted. The mural to the left commemorates a protest by the Mexican (American) community addressing injustices by the Anaheim city police.The more I think of it, I appreciate art that is not restricted by protective barriers or museum doors. This works are by the people for the people. When I think about it, murals comprise a large part of my daily visuals. It’s the header image for my blog site, the wallpaper on my homescreen, and found all over my photo stream capturing murals I see while traveling for work or pleasure.
What inspired this post was me stumbling upon the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. Finding a site that has cataloged and index many of LA’s murals by location, theme, or artist. As I make USC my home for the next four years, it is my hope to discover these murals with my own eyes, reflect on there meaning, and photograph them for my personal library. Through these works of art there is much for me to learn about my new city, my heritage, who I am, and how to make my community better.