Writing on the Wall
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his only surviving public mural, América Tropical is hidden behind
a protective curtain and fiberglass cover. Conservators have removed
the whitewash and cleaned and stabilized the mural, and a campaign
will launch in October to raise $3.7 million to build a shelter,
interpretive center and viewing platform from which the public can
see this once-censored work.
visitors make their way to the Siqueiros mural center, they also
will see in the access way a contemporary mural that places Siqueiros
in the context of the social tumult of his time. Using 3-D software
to "explode" an image of América Tropical, Baca and her students
show the muralist through the jagged outline of his crucified peasant,
suspended in space over the Los Angeles River. In Los Angeles Tropical,
the far-off landscape below shows fragments of historic scenes of
desolation and poverty: breadlines, sweatshops, forced deportations,
the Dust Bowl migration.
people see this piece, they will understand what was happening at
the time he painted it - a vision of Los Angeles at the turn of
the century," says Ramón De La Rosa '00, who worked on the project.
Two more student works, including The Corn Goddess, will eventually
be installed in the entrance way when it opens in 2002.
in this class was the most unique learning experience I have ever
had," says De La Rosa. "What we learned went beyond art; we learned
to work together creatively. I've never had an experience like that,
and I don't think I ever will again."
determination that her students' work be about more than just the
creation of art is evident.
must research widely, but they also must have dreams and visions
of their own and not just spout back rote information," she says.
"They are creating sites of public memory. They must ask themselves,
'What should we remember? Whose story should we tell, and why?'
Lee is an associate editor of UCLA Magazine.