JUSTICE Scrabble

Art Action by Mayra Barraza
with the participation of
CSUN Central American Studies Faculty and Student Volunteers

Production: Beatriz Cortez
Photographs: Nelson Lemus

Immigrant Workers March
Echo Park to Placita Olvera
Los Angeles
May 1st, 2009

“JUSTICE Scrabble” is an art action that took place with several groups of eight people, each person wearing a white T-shirt stamped front and back with one of the letters that form the word JUSTICE and JUSTICIA.

The participants joined the protesters and spontaneously arranged themselves in different configurations and sites in line next to each other to make the word legible while viewed from both back and front.

The words JUSTICE/JUSTICIA shouted out where the cues for groups to scrabble, dissolving, rearranging and then regrouping themselves spontaneously to make the written words legible again. The action took place repeatedly every 10-20 minutes along the march towards Placita Olvera.


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In this art action, the word chosen – JUSTICE or JUSTICIA in spanish- recalls all personal, collective and historical references possible and aims at being a visible claim for social recognition of justice’s voids through its symbolic representation within the Immigrant Workers Rights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

Special thanks to Beatriz Cortez for making everything happen at an incredibly smooth pace, to Kim Aberle for helping us out with letters and printing, to Nelson for running everywhere taking such great pictures, to Diana, Douglas, Claudia, Sherezade, Roberto and all the incredible people that made this possible!