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Art Making in Community | Karen Herrera

April 3, 2014

Born and raised in La Puente, California, Karen is a junior at Pomona College in the process of completing an English and Studio Art double major.

This blog is dedicated to all the Monterey kids out there grinding. I can’t imagine being introduced to mural painting by any other group of people. Keep doing you.

For the last month I had the chance to assist on a mural project at Monterey Continuation High School out in East Los Angeles through About Productions with support from the Draper Center. When I was initially told about the project, I had no idea what a continuation high school was and even after doing some research on Wikipedia I knew I was probably missing something.                

There were the obvious initial reasons for being excited about working on the project – Barbara Carrasco, our lead on creating the mural, is a big time muralist with all the stories. She dropped names like John Valadez, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and Harry Gamboa like it was no big thing! It was also the first time I’d be painting a mural.

I was the uncool new kid for the first couple sessions but we gradually bonded over the sheer difficulty of creating a mural in the span of what felt like such a short amount of time. We bonded over our inevitable love of the art making process that kept us motivated on the “sunnier” afternoons. Nothing made me happier than seeing new students join us after school as they saw progress being made on the wall.

I got to hang out with the coolest kids with the most eccentric and underground taste in movies. I got to be surrounded by people who aren’t afraid to dream and they’ve taught me to live life similarly. These are students who have challenged traditional schooling and they motivate me to keep searching for alternative education models in my work with Draper Center – models where art in community stays as the focus.

In the last month I’ve sat in my first two-hour (LA) traffic jam. In the last month I’ve learned how to go from the 10W to the 605S to the 60W without accidentally merging north. I’ve learned that the best course of action while driving in the far right lane is to slow down and let semi trucks merge up in front of you. Finally, on the long drives back it’s often best to chill out, have your favorite radio stations preset, and enjoy the view of the sun setting through your rear view mirrors.


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