Judith F. Baca is best known for the Great Wall of Los Angeles (1976-83), a vibrant 2,740-foot mural in Los Angeles that presents an alternative history of California--one that focuses on the contributions of marginalized and underrepresented communities. The mural is emblematic of Baca's pioneering approach to creating public art, a process in which members of the community are essential contributors to the conception and realization of the work.
Anna Indych-López explores Baca's oeuvre, from early murals painted with local gang members in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles to more recently commissioned works. She looks in depth at the Great Wall and considers the artist's ongoing work with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice, California, a nonprofit group founded by Baca in 1976. Throughout, Indych-López assesses what she calls Baca's "public art of contestation" and discusses how ideas of collaboration and authorship and issues of race, class, and gender have influenced and sustained Baca's art practice.