New Youth Project Mural in Ukiah: "No Human Being is Illegal"
By Stacey Sheldon
November 11, 2021--The Ukiah Valley Youth Leadership Coalition, a teen program of the Arbor Center at Redwood Community Services, recently unveiled their latest public arts project: a new mural at Todd Grove Park. Thanks to grant money from Drug Free Communities and All Children Thrive, local teens of Ukiah Valley, with the help of lead artist Josua Rojas designed and painted a large scale mural on the exterior walls of the park’s restroom, turning the once unsightly spot into a vibrant work of art. According to Kate Feigin, Program Director of the Youth Coalition, the teens’ vision for creating the mural was, "No human being is illegal on stolen land.”
Sofia Knight, a prominent member of the Youth Leadership Coalition, elaborated on the process of fine tuning the mural’s message, noting that the teens initially explored the theme of immigration, which resulted in the realization that no one could be considered “illegal” anywhere, especially on stolen land.
Another active member of the group, Anastaysia Ray, said that, unless an individual is Native, "all of us are immigrants and we should not shame others about their right to live peacefully."
The colorful mural consists of three sections united by a background landscape. In the center of the mural are three larger than life figures representing Indigenous and immigrant ancestors. Spilling out of the Indigenous Ancestor’s heart center are blood red hearts that morph into protestors dedicated to the seemingly endless fight for justice and equality.
To the left of the looming ancestors is a panel representing the struggle of social justice advocates and environmental activists.
To the right of the ancestors is a panel honoring the resilience of Indigenious people and immigrant laborers. A Pomo dancer in traditional dress stands in the foreground of the right panel. This dancer is the favorite image of the youngest muralist on the project, six year old Amias Barajas.
Bay area lead artist and mentor Josue Rojas has dedicated his life to creating community art throughout the world. Rojas recognizes the power public art can have on viewers when it is designed to engage the community in conversations intended to help them think and evolve into more compassionate human beings. Rojas is impressed with the message of this mural, and by the teen’s passion and conviction.
The mural project has not only fired up Rojas, members of the Youth Coalition are also proud of their bold, artistic statement. The Youth Leadership Coalition meets at the Arbor in the Redwood Community Service Center on State Street in Ukiah. New members are welcome.