Baca is a painter and muralist, community arts pioneer, scholar and educator who has been teaching art in the UC system since 1984. She was the founder of the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into an arts organization known as the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC). She continues to serve as SPARC’S artistic director and focuses her creative energy in the UCLA@SPARC Digital/Mural Lab, employing digital technology to create social justice art.
Baca has stood for art in service of equity for all people. Her public arts initiatives reflect the lives and concerns of populations that have been historically disenfranchised, including women, the working poor, youth, the elderly and immigrant communities, throughout Los Angeles and increasingly in national and international venues.
Beginning with the awareness that the land has memory, she creates art that is shaped by an interactive relationship of history, people and place. Baca’s public artworks focus on revealing and reconciling diverse peoples’ struggles for their rights and affirm the connections of each community to place. She gives form to monuments that rise up out of neighborhoods. Together with the people who live there, they co-create monumental public art places that become “sites of public memory.”
Baca’s work channels the creative process of monument design to develop models for the transformation of both physical and social environments in public spaces. They are monumental, both in space and time: The Great Wall of Los Angeles is a “tattoo on the scar where the Los Angeles River once ran” in a concrete flood control channel. The Great Wall depicts a 1⁄2 mile long multi-cultural history of California from pre-history through the 1950’s. Plans are underway for its next four decades of evolution.