Art, The Pandemic, Social Justice and 2020

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Going to school in Downtown Los Angeles as a Loyola Cub means that you will always be seeing some sort of mural or artwork. And with art come multiple layers of understanding and development. Since March, Los Angeles has confronted, locally, many global issues, and because of it, a rise in mural art can be seen. 

Art is immediately incorporated into the Loyola student experience from Day 1.  Loyola’s culture, with the Freshman Community Walk, stops by the mural of Óscar Romero on Vermont and Pico. In sophomore year, a great emphasis is placed on learning about social justice issues, and with that, artistic ways to express one’s self. And through this thought process, I firmly believe that art (specifically murals) are used to show social justice issues. 

“Whether people want to admit it or not, all art communicates,” said Tom Cendejas, theology teacher. “Even if they’re using an abstract style, art is a communication tool to send messages. Art allows people to engage and be active and employ your whole being.”

Recent issues have been the subject of new murals in town. One of the major murals that came out in 2020 was by tattoo artist Pony Waves: A wall of two lovers kissing with their masks on went viral in May. It has become one of the most recognizable murals in Los Angeles this year. It came during a time where people were frustrated with one another as well as the state of the world, as some people weren’t taking this virus seriously. When looking at this mural through a social justice lens, one can see that it symbolizes the extent to which one’s individuality and love for others can stretch.

Continuing with this timeline of events, the Black Lives Matter movement gained more traction this year due to the tragic and unjustified killing of Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more. Murals popped up all over LA as a way to both signify these losses and show that they won’t be forgotten.

The “All Black Lives Matter” mural that was painted on Hollywood Blvd. has now become permanent, a mark that will now be there forever to commemorate the social injustices and racism that the African American community faces. The original mural was painted by Luckie Alexander, an African American and Transgender artist and activist who uses his art and platform to spread awareness about these types of issues. Looking at this mural from a social justice perspective, regardless of one’s own emotional attachments, it is evident that art has a way of showing how someone or an entire community is feeling and can offer some sense of inspiration and hope.

Junior Jacob Orial said, “Murals, especially in LA, give a sense of unity. Since Los Angeles is so large and culturally diverse, seeing into one’s being through art is something that gives a feeling that cannot be replaced.” He elaborated more on the social justice aspects, saying, “Activists use art because it is so striking. Sure, words can unite people, too, but art does so in a way that you only need to look at it. And that’s fantastic.”

Art is a way to express thoughts and feelings, and by putting emphasis on issues in the community, murals have a way to unite people in activism and make discussions happen.

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