A documentary of America’s murals
“Images of fences, garage doors, or the aluminum siding of homes take on new meaning when layered with painted expressions of deeply felt political action, spirituality, rebellion, playfulness and love – the Mission District murals assert the voice of the painters, and in many cases are a reflection of the collective hopes and dreams of a neighborhood. Architectural reminders are intentional, affirming that the murals are part of someone’s daily life, not confined to museum walls.
While street art is often associated with the rebellious act of trespassing, here it is a reclaiming of public space. The muralist movement in this predominantly Latino neighborhood in San Francisco (the Mission District) involves an act of acceptance, sharing, validation and celebration –– an art form that can be easily traced back to Mayan and Aztec scenes painted on temple walls, or the caves of Lascaux. Many are highly politicized statements, whether celebrating indigenous cultures, protesting the wars in Central America, or honoring the fight for freedom in Nepal. Life and art are intertwined here, each mural with its own message inspired by the works of Mexican Muralists and motivated by the Civil Rights movement.
The temporality of these murals motivates me to help preserve what can easily disappear or become vandalized, while being a repository for the muralist. Some of the murals have since been defaced, and many are kept safe thanks to Precita Eyes in San Francisco*, an organization instrumental in the creation and preservation of many of these art works.
A major theme throughout my work is to document people’s lives and what is created through their labor, while attempting to bring related social inequities to light. Although people are absent from the frame in this series, their stories are strong via the markings they have left behind. Cultural pride, immigration, resistance, migrant fieldwork, or just making do with a new life: their voices through imagery, are a preserved tribute.”
* Precita Eyes’ book Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo (Abrams, NYC: 2009), identifies the Mission District as a “hot spot for street art, the largest concentration in the world of public painting that embodies activism, culture, passion, and desire for social change.” In honor of the organization’s decades of work, a percentage of prints sold will be donated to Precita Eyes Muralists.