proyecto mission murals

An interdisciplinary project launched this summer, “Proyecto Mission Murals,” has been updated on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s website. It examines the origins of the muralism movement in Mission from 1972 to 1988.

The project now includes documentation and reference images for some 100 murals; four original essays; 20 oral histories conducted with artists and other key figures in the movement; research materials, including periodicals and video footage from the time; and 25 artist biographies.

More historical murals can be found on the project page.

“Rather than a cohesive or seamless narrative, this project conveys its wide-ranging aesthetics, the diversity of its participants, its changing nature, and the perpetual challenges faced by its artists.” wrote Cary Cordova, associate professor of American Studies, University of Texas at Austin and the author of a major book on the early Mission art scene,  on the project’s homepage.

Kari Dahlgren, director of publications for the SFMOMA, suggested that readers start from the audio zine, a 48-minute audio tour with two local writers introducing the history of the Mission muralist movement with stories from the muralists themselves, and “Las Muralistas: Our Walls, Our Stories,” a 25-minute documentary featuring women muralists in the Mission.

“I think those really provide a nice introduction to the kind of atmosphere and to the broader contents of the project,” said Dahlgren.

The impetus of the project came from planning the exhibition “Diego Rivera’s America,” introduced by Dahlgren. The project makes the connections between the Mexican muralist, his Bay Area murals and mural making in the Bay Area more generally.

Starting in 2019, the SFMOMA worked closely with community advisors, professors and historians to narrow a list of resources and artists.Tim Drescher, one of the advisory members and an independent scholar, contributed his photos documenting the community murals beginning from the 1970s. Camilo Garzón, a journalist and oral historian, conducted oral histories with SFMOMA staff. 

Mission’s muralism movement started in the 1970s, the same time when it became the heart, or El Corazón, of San Francisco’s Latinx communities. 

“It became clear that there were some resources on this time period, but no projects had focused kind of specifically on the aging generation of San Francisco mural artists who are working in the ’70s and ’80s, and whose stories really hadn’t been captured. ” said Dahlgren.


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INTERN DATA REPORTER. Chuqin has two degrees in data journalism and she is passionate about making data more accessible to readers. Before arriving in the Mission, she covered small business and migratory birds in New York City while learning to code and design at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. She loves coastal cities, including SF and her hometown Ningbo.

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