Murals are more than just works of art
Author Cary Cardova discusses how community murals bring attention to social issues
May 7, 2021
Community murals have become a space for society to mourn, represent and speak on issues that have heavily impacted them, according to author Cary Cordova. Conversations on police brutality, world hunger and violence have been brought up in part because of these murals.
Cordova is an associate professor in American Studies and associate director of the Center of Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas and author of “Heart of the Mission: Latino Art and Politics in San Francisco,” which covers the history of Latino art community in San Francisco’s Mission District. On Thursday, SF State’s School of Art, School of Design, and the College of Liberal & Creative Arts hosted Cordova to discuss the importance of community murals and their social impact.
“We have needed art to express outrage and love, to contest, resist, and persist in making visible horrific violations of human rights and in raising a curtain on long-standing institutional racism,” Cordova said.
Cordova brought up the murder of George Floyd, after which murals of him began appearing in Los Angeles, Portland and in his hometown of Minneapolis.
The activism in response to Floyd’s brutality called for bringing more attention to the in-going police violence that has been happening in the United States.
Cordova said the murals of Floyd resulted in other muralists acknowledging previous people who had lost their lives to police violence. There is a mural in New York’s Union Square with multiple names listed, dedicated to violence against women — black women in particular.
“Murals have changed how our cities look today, the presence of murals is more accepted today than ever,” Cordova said.
After the murder of George Floyd, a Black Lives Matter mural was painted across Fulton Street between Webster and Octavia streets in San Francisco.
Last month, Oakland unveiled the city’s largest mural to date, “Zero Hunger” by Victor Ash. The mural is meant to bring attention to the issue of world hunger.