Judy Baca. César Chávez Monument in San José

Judy Baca’s César E. Chávez Monument (2008) at San José State University, 2019.
archway and water fountain in the main passageway of the San José State University's Campus
Judy Baca’s César E. Chávez Monument (2008) at San José State University, 2019. Photo by Frederick Liang.

Judy Baca developed a model for public art projects guided by the basic philosophy that art must be integrated into its social and physical environment, a process that she says is one-third painting, two-thirds planning and design.1 Baca taught mural painting at the University of California, Irvine, beginning in 1980, then moved to the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1996, where her mural courses take students into the field. In 2008 Baca and her students created the César E. Chávez Monument at San José State University—a twenty-two-foot arch surrounded by a circular mosaic pathway and topped by the United Farm Workers (UFW) emblem of an eagle. Murals on the arch depict César Chávez and UFW cofounder Dolores Huerta, along with Mahatma Gandhi and a pair of female and male farm workers from Salinas Valley. The monument was dedicated on September 4, 2008, with Baca’s hope: “May all those passing through it experience the passage from hope and inspiration, to education, and finally, to action for social and environmental justice.”2

  1. Judy Baca, oral history interview with Amalia Mesa-Bains for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, recorded August 5–6, 1986, transcript available at aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-judith-baca-5436#transcript. ↩︎

  2. Judy Baca, “César E. Chávez Monument Dedication,” Social and Public Art Resources Center, August 26, 2008, available at sparcinla.org/cesar-chavez-monument-dedication/. ↩︎