The True Colors Mural Project is the collaborative effort of Juana Alicia Araiza, Project Director, Berkeley City College and Earth Island Institute. The purpose of this program is to foster the development of artist activists for the improvement of the urban environment through the creation of public murals. The purpose of the murals is to both educate and beautify the urban environment with messages and images that support ecological sustainability, conservation and restoration. Since the population of Berkeley City College is tremendously diverse, and the need for arts education that reaches out to young people of all colors is great, the program serves an international representation of cultures and ethnicities. The murals are a direct reflection of those world cultures.
Our mission is train artists in the techniques of mural painting and community organizing, to design and create community murals with social and environmental justice themes and, through these efforts, improve the urban environment. The environmental aspects of our program are three-fold:
Educational: The murals deal with issues of environmental justice and educate student artists through their research and design process.
Physical: The murals improve and beautify the urban environments where they are located.
Thematic: The themes and messages of the murals bring environmental awareness to the viewing public.
True Colors has created five community murals and trained approximately 300 young artists (most from under served and economically disadvantaged communities) in the historical, cultural, activist and technical aspects of creating a mural for the Berkeley community. All of the murals have received tremendous public acclaim, and have involved deep processes of community involvement and research. Thematically, they focus on the crises, challenges and beauty of our environment. Physically, they play an important role in reclaiming contested and blighted urban spaces by bringing both environmental consciousness and visual beauty to our gray streets.
Multiple community partners will bring together diverse young artists with the common goal of a creative project. Students are infused with a broad vision of the environmental strengths and challenges of Berkeley’s diverse community. The process of research that leads to the final mural images involves interviewing and researching the many cultural communities that these monumental works represent and serve. This collaboration and awareness serves to grow a culture of youth leadership, arts development, environmental activism and intercultural understanding.
The distinctive nature of this project is that it is interdisciplinary, with the goals of fostering critical thinkers and artists that play a strong role in humanizing, detoxifying and educating their own urban communities. True Colors combines the artistic processes of beautifying the city with the intellectual development and leadership of youth researchers that create monumental educational works of art that influence the thinking and quality of life for all that see them. The result is a body of work that celebrates the world cultures that comprise the rich community of Berkeley.