Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

BCC Art instructor Juana Alicia honored by the San Francisco Art Commission

Berkeley City College Art instructor and Bay Area muralist Juana Alicia Araiza was celebrated for her decades-long contribution to the arts by the San Francisco Art Commission (SFAC) “Dreaming in Color”’ Symposium on Sep. 8-9. The SFAC is hosting an exhibition titled Me Llaman Calle: The Monumental Art of Juana Alicia, that chronicles the work of the muralist and will be on display at the SFAC until September 23. 

Araiza, known professionally as Juana Alicia, is recognized by her signature murals located throughout the Bay Area buildings that embody Chicanismo history at a bold scale.

During her keynote speech at the symposium, Araiza spoke about the inspirations behind her murals and work as an artist. 

At a young age, Araiza said, she developed her socially conscious art after viewing the murals of Diego Rivera in Detroit. Rivera was the prolific Mexican muralist who depicted the economic and cultural injustices of labor workers in his frescoes. 

It would be later on during her studies as a student at the San Francisco Arts Institute that Araiza learned many of Rivera’s techniques while working under Rivera’s former art apprentices, Stephen Demitroff and Lucienne Bloch.

One of her early works involved creating postcards for the National Farm Workers Association, a labor union led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, whom she engaged with during many of its protests.  

“Resisting the picket lines was the best education as an artist,” Araiza said.

For the muralist, Latin American literature from Miguel De Cervantez, Juana Inés De La Cruz, José Martí and Sandra Cisneros intersections of liberation and art inspires her work.

Poetry “creates imagery for my mind’s eye,” she said. 

Plenty of her murals can be found on different locally significant buildings across the Bay Area, and one in Mexico. A list of her murals is viewable on her website

Araiza shared the continuous definition of the Chicanismo movement and lasting relationship of art and advocacy.

“The whole notion of Chicanismo has expanded and been redefined by generations seeking to name ourselves in contemporary ways that reveal our diversity, indigeneity, gender inclusivity, and international nature,” Araiza said. 

She has defined the importance of art to many emerging and interested artists in the Bay Area, starting with her teachings at BCC. 

She was a lead founder of the True Colors Mural Project, a program started at BCC in 2008 offering students a space for artistic activism by painting murals in different locations in Oakland and Berkeley. The program paired students with professional artists as mentors and Araiza would oversee the process of developing and presenting each mural. 

At the Berkeley City College campus, two murals from the True Colors Mural Project are presented at the student lounge and atrium spaces. 

The mural From the Ground Up, found next to the stairs in the atrium, was painted to commemorate BCC’s 40th anniversary. It portrays the history of activism in Berkeley and depicts iconic figures that shaped many wins for marginalized groups.

From The Ground Up inside of the Berkeley City College Atrium. (Photo by Emily Tenorio Molina/The Citizen)

Inside of the student lounge on the fifth floor, the mural titled Day portrays a riveting imagery of unity. It is part of a pair of murals in the student lounge titled The Infinite Brainstorm Murals.


Day inside of Berkeley City College’s Student Lounge on fifth floor. (Photo by Emily Tenorio Molina/The Citizen)

Simultaneously, the fourth floor of the BCC campus also has displayed many artworks from Araiza’s students from her 2014 Figure Drawing Class. The presentation titled Skeleton: The Exquisite Corpse displays five 2’x2’ wood panels of an interpretation of a skeleton to each student.

(Photo by Emily Tenorio Molina/The Citizen)

At the moment, Araiza is working on the illustrations for a bilingual graphic novel titled La X’tabay, a modern reinterpretation of an indigenous Yucatecan tale of the same name. An early copy of the book can be viewed at the exhibition. 

About the Contributor
Emily Tenorio Molina
Emily Tenorio Molina, Staff Writer
Emily is a recent Cal graduate who is eager to begin a career in journalism. During her undergrad, Emily wrote stories on Bay Area activists, social movement groups, and the importance of community engagement. Some of her interests lie in healthcare, financial equity, social activism, and breakthrough technology. In her free time, Emily enjoys walking through the picturesque streets of the Bay, learning about new fusion foods, and driving at night
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