Learning Los Angeles: Debra Padilla, Arts and Activism

July 28, 2014 4:11 PM

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Learning Los Angeles: Debra Padilla, Arts and Activism

Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), in the historic Venice police station, houses the UCLA@SPARC Digital Mural Lab, a comprehensive archive, a UCLA graduate program, a printmaking studio and a gallery. SPARC's most storied accomplishment is the Great Wall of Los Angeles, a half-mile long mural located in the San Fernando Valley, telling the history of Los Angeles through the eyes of people left out of history books. The mural runs along the LA River's concrete channel at the Tujunga Wash. Beginning in 1976 artist Judy Baca hired and trained teams of young people, many of them gang members and part of the juvenile justice system, to execute this story during a period in our history when there were no Latino members of the City Council or the School Board. Baca and Debra J.T. Padilla, SPARC's Executive Director since 1993, work non-stop. Debra sat down with us at SPARC to share her story.

Can you tell us how you chose your name? One of our founders, Christina Schlesinger, says, "One day we were sitting at a big table in the dungeon buzzing with ideas for the new name. I thought back to the radical '60's group, the Weatherman, and their slogan, "It only takes a spark to start a prairi...

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