People strolling near Bruin Walk in the heart of campus, will get a bold new view that showcases a glimpse into the past of the land Angelenos and Bruins call home when a new original mural by artist, activist and UCLA professor emeritus Judith Baca is unveiled on the north-facing exterior wall of the Ackerman Union.

Baca’s illustrated excavation of Westwood is titled “La Memoria de la Tierra: UCLA,” which translates into English as “The Memory of Earth: UCLA.” The project is the result of a partnership among the UCLA Centennial Committee, Associated Students UCLA, or ASUCLA, a nonprofit association that drives student services and activities throughout campus, and the Digital Mural Lab from the Social and Public Art Resource Center, or SPARC. It was in 1976 that Baca and two other artists founded SPARC, a Venice-based arts center that creates, preserves and hosts programs about community-based public artwork. The mural was created with financial support from Wescom Credit Union.

“ASUCLA is honored that Ackerman Union will serve as the canvas for this exceptional mural created by renowned muralist Judy Baca,” said Roy Champawat, project lead and former student union director. “As the student union is the beating heart of the UCLA community, it’s fitting that this mural — which reflects the best of Westwood’s ancestral past, UCLA’s legacy of leadership and advocacy, and a future of promise — comes to life here. We invite all Bruins to experience the mural and think about how each of us has the power within ourselves to be a part of shaping that future.”

The story of Westwood flows over three 26-foot-long panels. The image begins with a tribute to the land, detailing where the Los Angeles River once flowed through campus and where the original peoples such as the Gabrielino/Tongva tribes, and native flora and fauna thrived. In the second segment, the artist pays homage to many men and women who have shaped the UCLA community beyond the physical borders of the campus, including John Lewis, Grace Montanez Davis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others. The final segment represents an imaginative depiction of the future in which the ever-changing university is in harmony with the original land.

“My public artworks are about the memory of the land,” said Baca, who taught in the departments of Chicana and Chicano studies and world arts and cultures. “This mural is a piece of the land in memory, including Westwood’s original people, and the land and river’s original state.”

This vibrant representation of UCLA and Westwood’s history is rendered on one-of-a-kind, mineral-ingrained glass printed by Pulp Studios Inc., a local glass company that specializes in decorative design and graphic work. 

The installation celebration ceremony is free to the UCLA community, but people who want to attend must make reservations. Baca will share insights into the creative process and talk about what the mural represents. Light refreshments will be served. 

“ASUCLA is humbled by yet another opportunity to bring a unique experience to Bruins past, present and future,” said Pouria Abbassi, CEO of ASUCLA. “This magnificent art provides us with a window to our past and the promise of the future.”

Baca has been a professor at UCLA for 32 years. She continues her creative work at her SPARC Digital Mural Lab in Venice, which is the leading research, teaching and production facility of large-scale, digitally created murals and art in the country. Her UCLA mural was commissioned as part of UCLA’s 2019 centennial celebration.