Date & Time: September 18, 2023 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.

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About the Speakers

Brenda Perez and her children

Brenda Perez

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.

Indigenous images

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.

Timothy Long

Timothy Long is a pianist, conductor, and composer who is Artistic and Music Director of Opera at the Eastman School of Music. He is a Muscogee Nation citizen from the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town and is one-half Choctaw on his mother’s side.

Timothy Long

Orchestral engagements have included the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Prince George Symphony, the Regina Symphony, the Eastman Philharmonia, the Prague Summer Nights Orchestra, the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, and the Trondheim Sinfonietta.

His operatic conducting engagements have included such companies as Anchorage Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Colorado, Utah Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Pacific Opera Victoria, The Juilliard School, Yale Opera, the Maryland Opera Studio, the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and off-Broadway with The New Group.

At City Opera Vancouver, Tim conducted the 2017 world premiere of Missing, a groundbreaking new work by Marie Clements and Brian Current about the 5,000 missing Indigenous women in Canada. In 2019, he conducted a Canadian tour of Missing with Pacific Opera Victoria, the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and the Prince George Symphony Orchestra. In 2023 he conducted the American Premiere at Anchorage Opera.This extraordinary composition is the first opera to be sung in both the Gitxsan and English languages.

As a pianist and harpsichordist, Tim has performed throughout the world. Concerto performances include the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Lawton Philharmonic, the Beethoven Society Orchestra of Washington DC, the Sociedad Filarmonica de Conciertos of Mexico City, the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, and the Eastman Philharmonia.

Tim is passionate about his work with The Plimpton Foundation  which promotes the work of Native American and underrepresented performing artists through scholarships, grants, and commissions.


For more information on this event, please contact:

The Power of Art for Social Transformation

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