California State University Northridge

The Central American Art Week
Salvadoran Artist
Mayra Barraza

Thursday April 30, 2009

Art Building AC 300 (Purple Critique Room)

Overview of her artwork

Public Art

This event is sponsored by the Central American Studies Program, Art Department,
Liberal Studies Program, Chicana/o Studies Department, College of Humanities Academic
Programming Fund, and the Central American United Student Association (CAUSA).


Friday May 1, 1:30pm

JUSTICE Scrabble

Art Action

Mayra Barraza + CSUN Central American Studies Students
Production: Beatriz Cortez

Immigrant Workers March leaving Echo Park towards Placita Olvera, Los Angeles


“JUSTICE Scrabble” is an art action that will take place with several groups of eight people. Each person will be wearing a white T-shirt stamped front and back with one of the letters that form the word JUSTICE and JUSTICIA. They will all meet at the march for immigrant workers rights to take place on May 1st in the city of Los Angeles.

The participants will join the protesters and spontaneously arrange themselves in a front line standing next to each other so the word can be legible while viewed from both back and front.

The words JUSTICE/JUSTICIA shouted out will be the cues for groups to scrabble, dissolving, rearranging and then regrouping themselves spontaneously to make the written words legible again. The action will take place repeatedly every 5-10 minutes for as long as the group of participants stays together. There is no time limit established.


“JUSTICE Scrabble” is an art action that seeks to make visible key aspects of social organization, civil rights and economic inequities.

This art-action has as its main objective to serve as a visible public act in solidarity with workers in the world and specifically in support of the roughly twenty million undocumented immigrant workers in the United States.

Rinku Sen, co-author of "The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization," references a report by the William C. Velasquez Institute at UCLA, which says legalizing undocumented immigrants would create up to $5.4 billion in net tax revenue, a million new jobs and up to $36 billion in personal wealth.

“JUSTICE Scrabble” alludes to how random human acts can bring forth collective social consciousness. The scenario for this to take place in a natural way is during the immigrant rights march when a group of people coming together for a cause opens up the possibility of meaning through the display of letters on the shirts of the participants. Each letter/person on its own means nothing. In contrast, all letters/people grouped together in the correct sequence are coherent and legible and stand as a symbol.

The theorist Nancy Fraser considers justice to be a complex concept that comprehends several dimensions: wealth distribution, recognition and representation.

In this art action, the word chosen – JUSTICE or JUSTICIA in spanish- recalls all personal, collective and historical references possible and aims at being a visible claim for social recognition of justice’s voids through its symbolic representation within the Immigrant Workers Rights March in Los Angeles.

The Central American Studies Students at CSUN are part of the only university program in the United States of its kind with an interdisciplinary and trans-national dimension and an emphasis on Central American ethnic regional diversity and its migratory experience. CSUN students from the Public Art class, as well as other CSUN students, faculty, and members of the Central American community at large have also been invited to participate.

Mayra Barraza has presented her work in public places and international and regional exhibitions since the nineties. The fundamental basis of her work deals with spaces of power: the human body as personal space and public spaces which make up the social body; deeply exploring her subject matter through a wide array of media and aesthetic standpoints. She lives and works in El Salvador. Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) Drawing Award 2008.

For more information please contact:

Dr. Beatriz Cortez, Program Coordinator, Central American Studies Program, California State University, Northridge at (818) 677-3585 or by e-mail at beatriz.cortez@csun.edu

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