Date & Time: September 18 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Virtual

Mural Artivism as Decolonial Praxis: Restorative Justice for the Arts, mobilizing to preserve murals and sacred imagery.

Restorative Justice for the Arts (RJFTA) was mobilized to preserve murals and sacred imagery, cultivate decolonial pedagogies of creativity, and protect the cultural identities narrated through community art. This grassroots community project aims to educate communities on how to protect their art using federal, state and local laws, the importance of preserving sacred Indigenous murals and community art as to empower marginalized and displaced communities. By utilizing an arts based facet of reconciliation and reparations (restoration) and restorative justice practices, our mission is to help remediate and heal the historical trauma of native peoples’ misrepresentation or total lack of representation (ghosting) in the artistic, political, and social justice arenas.

Brenda Perez and her children

Brenda Perez is a Mexican (Raramuri) and Chicana woman born and raised in Highland Park, Northeast Los Angeles. Brenda’s research investigates gentrification as a form of internal colonialism in the historic Mexican neighborhood of Highland Park, which continually feeds L.A.’s chronic homelessness crisis. In many urban areas of Los Angeles, murals and community art continue to offer images of Indigenous survivance. In recent years, our neighborhood’s culturally historic and legally registered murals are being systematically erased as part of gentrification efforts. This scholar-artivist research looks at Highland Park as a case study with the recent whitewashing of the Cesar Chavez Foundation funded farmworker mural at Garvanza Elementary during National Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as other threatened murals featuring sacred imagery, profound Indigenous iconography, and artistic heritage. Brenda shows how whitewashing Indigenous iconography in community art and constructing fenced walls or “gentrifences” around gentrifier homes exemplify the defenses and disavowal of the neoliberal psyche. Gentrification is a form of cultural homogenization that measurably increases disparities in community health. Furthermore, her research shows how the psychological shock of gentrification is an ecopsychological injustice that severs ties between people and the land, thus violating one’s well-being. In Indigenous paradigms, psychological sense of community often includes relationships with place, plants, animals, and spirits. For communities facing de-indigenization and displacement, art-making is a means for cultural survival, not just therapy.

In response to this erasure, Brenda Perez founded a grassroots community-based project Restorative Justice for the Arts, which was mobilized as an artivist platform to preserve, restore and create murals, protect sacred imagery, cultivate healing through the arts, and to protect cultural monuments and identities narrated through community art. Brenda’s participant artivist research is a sketch of an emergent critical participant action research that combines Indigenous, decolonial, and arts based methodologies greatly associated with the traditions of liberation theology, restorative justice and decolonial pedagogies of creativity. Brenda has gathered community testimonios and documentation (photos/videos) of lost or whitewashed murals to spur dialogue, educate the public, and empower different cultural communities to come together (specifically, native and non-native) in solidarity actions using restorative justice healing practices and deep participatory methodologies accountable to the goals of truth, advocacy and social justice.

Instagram: @restorativejusticeforthearts

Contact for more information.

Register for the zoom link to the event.

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