Muralists, Poets and Activists Inspire Each Other
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Juan Felipe Herrera on being named Poet Laureate of California. A well-deserved recognition for this outstanding Chicano poet. What does this have to do with our mural for REALM Charter School? It relates because we are an interconnected cultural web of artists working for social justice. Juan Felipe wrote the poem, Mission Street Manifesto in the early 1985 (Exiles of Desire) and it inspired this mural of the same name, which I painted in 1990. The mural Manifesto is now located at the Student Union of San Francisco State University. Both the poem and the mural mark an era and a call to action, as you will read and see below.
The True Colors Mural Project's interactive mural for the REALM School also marks an era: one of global warming, climate change, threatened ecosystems and international organizing to save the planet, its species and sustainable human participation in the web of life. The embedded interactive QR codes that enable people to go to informational and activist sites supporting environmental justice also mark an era when we use technology for sustainable practices. The 1980's seem like a distant past, when the planet was not so challenged, and regional struggles seemed more urgent than planetary concerns. But even then, Juan Felipe's words called out for a unity that crossed borders and revealed the destructive forces of empire. Kudos to the voice of this poet, and to collaborations between visual artists, writers and activists. We hope that the new mural True Colors creates at REALM will also be an activist history lesson for future generations.
Mission Street Manifesto, Exiles of Desire
MISSION STREET MANIFESTO, acrylic mural on panels, 12' x 25', Juana Alicia ©1990. Photo: Marvin Collins. Installed at San Francisco State University Student Union, after being commissioned by 20th Century Fox for the movie CLASS ACTION. Photo: Marvin Collins.