Judith F. Baca Professor of Chicana/o Studies, UCLA

Judith F. Baca

Baca is a painter and muralist, community arts pioneer, scholar and educator who has been teaching art in the UC system since 1984. She was the founder of the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into an arts organization known as the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC). Baca’s work channels the creative process of monument design to develop models for the transformation of both physical and social environments in public spaces. She continues to serve as SPARC’S artistic director and focuses her creative energy in the UCLA@SPARC Digital/Mural Lab, employing digital technology to create social justice art.

Baca has stood for art in service of equity for all people. Her public arts initiatives, such as The Great Wall of Los Angeles reflect the lives and concerns of populations that have been historically disenfranchised, including women, the working poor, youth, the elderly and immigrant communities, throughout Los Angeles and increasingly in national and international venues.

Most recently, Prof. Baca established the Judith F. Baca Arts Education Program, and the Emancipation Project at the Judith F. Baca Arts Academy (JBAA) in Watts, CA. The school was name for her in 2010. JBAA represents the tremendous potential for creative learning endeavors within the Los Angeles Unified School District. At JBAA academic preparedness means placing art, creativity and self-exploration at the center of the scholastic journey. The Emancipation Project, a collaboration between University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and JBAA, reflects this ideology. The workshops pair members of 6th grade classes with UCLA students enrolled in Prof. Baca’s Beyond the Mexican Mural studio course through the UCLA@SPARC Digital Mural Lab.

Students create life-sized self-portraits as emancipation from primary school. Beginning as photographs, these images transform into hand painted portraits reflecting memory, identity and aspirations of the 6th grade students. When finished, the individual portraits are installed together in the school’s outdoor eating area as a unified image of “emancipation” commemorating the students’ graduation from elementary school, while celebrating their future achievements within academia and beyond.

Additionally, Emancipation Project students receive 15 sessions of instruction in digital photography, Photoshop, computer training, mixed media arts, acrylic painting, and procedural thinking skills involved in developing an artwork from conceptualization to completion. Students also receive 6 sessions of instruction on music and identity, and 6 sessions on spoken word and choral reading. JBAA has developed arts curriculum to meet LAUSD common core standards with focus on teaching compassion, civic engagement, community pride, elevating self-esteem and supporting identity formation.

LAUSD recently awarded a city-wide contract for five additional years of the Judith F. Baca Arts Education Program, extending this vital program into 2021.

Related Publications

La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra: Colorado
By Judith F. Baca [ PDF ]


Creativity & Education