There is power in a union. There is power in solidarity. And there is power in art. In December, 2018 these themes were on full display during a three-day art build for UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles). UTLA is the teachers union for the K-12 public school teachers in Los Angeles. They represent 38,000 teachers and the union is a force for justice. 98% of UTLA members have voted to strike in January if contract negotiations continue to stall. UTLA is fighting against the corporate takeover of public education that negatively impacts students and teachers alike. See their current campaigns and demands here.
The Art Build took place at an epicenter for social justice art: SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center) that was established in Venice, California in 1976 by Judy Baca. The event brought together 700-plus people to create art for the December 15th March for Public Education in downtown Los Angeles (10:00am at Grant Park) and to provide strike ready art (picket signs, banners, posters, and parachute banners) for future actions. It brought together teachers and union leaders from UTLA (shout out to Cecily Myart-Cruz) – with major solidarity from NEA (notably Nate Gunderson), the Oakland Education Association), Los Angeles artists and organizers (Erin Yoshi, Ernesto Yerena, Nisha Sembi, Aise Born, Dewey Tafoya, Louis Barreto, Angelica Becerra, Daniel Martinez, Leila Lujan, Carolyn Knight, Judy Baca, Carlos Rogel, and many more), key LA arts organizations (SPARC and Self Help Graphic), the Milwaukee Art Build team (Joe Brusky, Kim Cosier, Josie Osborne, Claudio Martinez, Paul Kjelland, and Nicolas Lampert), and numerous community members and allies.
During the art build over 1,600 picket signs were silkscreened, 1000 posters were screened, 1000 patches were screened, 30 plus banners were painted, 8 parachute banners (24′ wide) were painted, and thousands of offset posters were printed and distributed to UTLA members and the community. Below are three videos by Joe Brusky (with some great drone camera work by Carlos Rogel) that highlight some of the activities that took place at SPARC during the Art Build.