Judith F. Baca
Artist, educator, activist

Born: Los Angeles, California

One of America’s leading muralists, Judith Baca believes that art is a tool for social change and self-transformation, capable of fostering civic dialogue in the most uncivil places.

“Break the mold! Have the biggest vision you can! If you can’t dream it, it cannot occur.”

Raised in a strong, all-female household, Baca was especially influenced by the values of her grandmother, a Mexican herbal healer. In 1974, Baca founded the City of Los Angeles’ first mural program, and in 1976 she co-founded the Social and Public Art Resource Center, which promotes community-based, participatory public arts projects. Since 1980 she has been a professor at the University of California, first at Irvine and since 1996 at UCLA.

“I want to use public space to create a public voice for, and a public consciousness about people who are, in fact, the majority of the population but who are not represented in any visual way."

Baca’s The Great Wall of Los Angeles engaged hundreds of culturally and economically diverse 14-21 year olds, including gang members, as well as scholars, oral historians, artists, and community members. Baca calls the depiction of America and California’s ethnic history “the largest monument to interracial harmony in America.”










Judith F. Baca, Artist, Educator, Activist. Photograph by Celia Alvarez Muñoz, taken at the Social and Public Art Resource Center , Venice , California

Judith F. Baca, artist, educator, activist. Photograph by Celia Alvarez Muñoz, taken at the Social and Public Art Resource Center, Venice, California


“We Latinos must see ourselves as connected to the generations that preceded us and fought for us, and to those who are behind us, struggling in poverty, fear, and lack of opportunity. We must see ourselves as part of the whole.”









Copyright© 2004 Smithsonian Institution