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Judy Baca: La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra

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Inspired by Judy Baca’s Paletas de la Frontera, I wrote a research paper on Baca’s contributions to the Latin American community in an Art and Social Change in Latin America course. Below is an excerpt focusing on her mural La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra from my paper.

Judy Baca’s La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra translates to The Memory of Our Land and focuses on her grandparents' migration from Mexico to the United States and provides dignity to “the Mestizo’s story and the stories of countless others who toiled in the mines, fields, and railroads of Colorado.” In La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra, her grandparents are depicted fleeing Mexico upon the pillaging of Pancho Villa’s troops, moving upward to Northern Mexico to the city of Juárez and advancing to El Paso in Texas, then the Mexican Ellis Island, and settling in El Junta, Colorado. Baca also paints her grandfather, Tedro, facing untenable choices of whether to work in the fiends, the railroads, or the mines. This mural is located at the Denver International Airport as Baca’s mother was born in La Junta, a municipality in Colorado, and was raised and educated in its segregated housing and school system.

When discussing her inspiration behind La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra, Baca explains that her indigenous grandmother believed the “land had memory” and that this mural illustrates how Mexicans have played a pivotal role in creating the landscape of the United States in contradiction to the media’s “depiction of the immigrant as undesirables” and “alien hordes”. La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra acknowledges the harsh struggles of Latin American immigrants, including her Mexican ancestors who immigrated to Colorado in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By providing solidarity and dignity to Mestizo’s immigration stories through her mural La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra, Baca includes the silenced and unrecognized visual identity of Latin American, including Mexican, communities in the United States’ collective identity.


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