New CCA Oakland Campus Mural Celebrates Diversity, Social Change

CCA students with muralCCA students pose in front of new mural with faculty member Eduardo Pineda

A stunning new mural was unveiled this month on the Oakland campus of California College of the Arts (CCA).

A dedication and presentation celebration is planned for September 2, from 5 to 6 p.m.

Six CCA students were selected this summer to paint a new mural on the side of Martinez Hall. Led by faculty member and noted muralist Eduardo Pineda, the team set out to create a mural that would celebrate and promote diversity and social justice, two core values of the college.

Read more about CCA's core values »

Queen Califia Rules!

The central focus of the colorful mural is Califia, a mythical warrior queen who ruled over a kingdom of black women living on the "island" of California. Her representation here was inspired by depictions of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego, the 16th century Mexican peasant to whom the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared.

In the CCA mural Queen Califia represents the people, culture, and land of California, and she is surrounded by a landscape that is both natural and political.

Juan Diego, depicted as a black youth wearing a hoodie, offers Queen Califia light, water, and corn. Diego represents the long struggle for freedom and equality, while Queen Califia symbolizes an untamed and bountiful land prior to the arrival of Europeans to the Americas.

Political Movements & Cultural Practices

The mural also references local social/political movements including current events such as the Black Lives Matter BART protest and the "die in” protests. The Bay Area's distinctive history of activism is also noted by depictions of free speech and anti-war demonstrations that occurred in the 1960s at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley.

An image of Japanese American human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama also appears in the mural. A Bay Area resident, she was influential in Asian American and Puerto Rican issues and was part of Malcom X’s African American unity movement.

Bay Area traditional cultural practices are also featured in the mural.

In the upper right-hand portion, the Mexica people (an indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico) perform a traditional ceremony that has been celebrated for centuries.

On the left of Califia, contemporary Ohlone people are shown keeping their long-held traditions alive. The hands across the bottom of the mural represent the weaving of peoples past, present, and future.

The Beauty of the Bay

A celebration of the beauty and wonder of the San Francisco Bay Area is evident at the top of the mural; both the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridges, the San Francisco Bay, and the Marin headlands are depicted. 

Queen Califia stands in a field of California poppies, the state flower. CCA students from many disciplines, including photography, textiles, ceramics, architecture, and design -- are shown in the upper left.   

Cross-Discipline Students Worked Together

The mural project united students from multiple disciplines to design and paint the mural:

  • Laila Espinoza (Community Arts 2017)
  • Jacqueline Krase (Illustration 2016)
  • Steven James Mayorga (Printmaking 2017)
  • Martina Maguens (Jewelry / Metal Arts 2016)
  • Angel Perez (Printmaking 2015)
  • Michaela Realiza (Printmaking 2018)

Make Art That Matters

Community Arts and Diversity Studies professor Claudia Bernardi, an internationally known artist who works in the fields of art, human rights, and social justice, praised the collaboration: "I was so glad and so moved to be at CCA last Friday at noon as Eduardo and the young artists/muralists were concluding the wonderful 'diversity' mural.

"Thanks to Eduardo for leading this wonderful project. Thanks to the wonderful young muralists who used their skills as artists as well as their intelligence to research and find meaningful and potent images that tell so many layers of history.

"Thanks to Melinda de Jesus for embracing within Diversity Studies classes projects and possible new visions that help expand within CCA [the theme of] 'make art that matters.' ... And thanks to CCA for welcoming this mural."