WORLD WALL: A Vision of the Future Without Fear

The WORLD WALL is a “participatory process” mural, conceived by Chicana mural artist Judith F. Baca. Begun in Los Angeles in 1987, it examines contemporary issues of global importance: war, peace, cooperation, interdependence and spiritual growth. The WORLD WALL is made up of a series of 10′ x 30′ portable panels which envision a transformation from a warbased society to a peaceful one.

As with her earlier large-scale mural projects in the Los Angeles area, Baca developed the WORLD WALL through a series of collaborative “brainstorming” sessions with people who were selected to represent cultural diversity and areas of expertise pertinent to the concerns of the project. Out of these sessions emerged the seven major themes that will be treated in seven separate panels: Triumph of the Heart, Nonviolent Resistance, New World Systems, Balance, Human-Based Technology, Missiles to Starships, and Triumph of the Hands.

Four panels are now completed. The first panel, Triumph of the Heart, shows the beginnings of the transformation toward peace, where individuals of all races make a conscious choice to take action together. ‘Me heart-shaped irises of the eyes of the four female faces contain vesselshaped pupils, a symbol for the heart found among many native North American tribes. The young black male figure casts a shadow in the shape of Mahatma Gandhi. All five figures carry the light of hope. The winds of war that begin in the top right comer of Triumph of the Heart continue into, and fill the top half of, the panel Nonviolent Resistance. The death-like imagery is kept in check, however, by a wall of human beings, arms linked, empowered by their unity. Balance represents the return to a healthy balance between the male and the female, the yin and the yang, the moon and the sun. ne central image of the new-bom sun is surrounded by the rhythms of the earth and the sky – the cycles of their moon, the rise and the fall of the tides, the planets that, when grown together, replenish the soil. Triumph of the Hands is the counterpart to Triumph of the Heart, the material transformation that must accompany the spiritual transformation. Here the figures realize the power of their own hands and intercede to stop the military machinery. This machinery is fueled by the desire for weapons and profits, symbolized by the dollar bill and missiles that fill the TV screens in front of the workers caught on the military treadmill.

One of the primary goals of the exhibition is to reach the widest possible audience and create an arena for dialogue. An innovative traveling installation system of poles, guy-wires and canvas frees the murals from the restrictions of conventional art exhibitions. Seven panels 10 foot by 30 foot each assemble into a 100-foot diameter circle, traveling to public spaces nationally and then internationally.

The WORLD WALL premiered in June 1990 in Joensuu, Finland at “A Meeting of the Worlds,” where Finnish artists joined the project and produced the first of a series of international panels which convey their own “Vision of the Future Without Fear.” Then it traveled to Moscow, USSR, where it was exhibited for one week in Gorky Park, and Alexi Begov, a native Russian artist, added another panel.

The WORLD WALL will travel to and be exhibited in many countries and along the way inspire activist artists all over the world to play a visionary role in imagining a peaceful future for us all, their own “Vision of the Future Without Fear”. This project, therefore, offers artists the opportunity to play an active role, to inspire individuals with bold and imaginative works that describe a peaceful society in terms that are challenging and striking and that are also well-grounded in the possible. If we speak in a language that is comprehensible and believable people will listen.

The WORLD WALL has received major funding from the following organizations and individuals: The Women’s Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, Liberty Hill, the Rockefeller Foundation, University of California Mexus, University of California, Irvine, ARCO, Wallace Annenberg, and Bill Alexander. Many other individuals have donated time and money to make this project possible.

Assistants to Judith F. Baca on the WORLD WALL include Juan Burgueno, Regan Mc Neill, Yoko Nogami, Greg Pickens, Lilya Vorbey, and Matt Wuerker.