Archive for the ‘Teen Mural Program EPA’ Category


Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

We asked our Artist in Residence Scape Martinez to tell us about his experience this summer working with our talented Teen Mural Program (TMP) students to design and create a mural for East Palo Alto’s City Hall. Here’s what he had to say:

“HOPE” is defined as the feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It can also be looked at as “the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.”

So what does this have to do with murals? …EVERYTHING.

The theme of our mural completed by the Teen Mural Program (TMP) in Summer 2013 was the concept of “HOPE.” But what exactly is it?

While observing our kids, their thought process, and design ideas, I came to understand that HOPE is an aggressive thing, not a passive thing. It is a part of something bigger, and that something is leadership. It is an ingredient used to effect change, an active and aggressive social change.

We wrapped our minds around the concept of HOPE before we began painting. During our research into the mural, we addressed concepts such as “adversity”… I asked, where is the adversity in East Palo Alto? There needs to be a sense of “promise,” whether inward or outward, and whether realized or broken. The students needed to recognize that they have a voice, and that their voice is valid and necessary. Add a smidge of risk, and in the end we have an active HOPE that effects change and leaves East Palo Alto in a better place than when we found it.

Social change is fueled by HOPE. I think that the students of TMP are the HOPE of East Palo Alto. They definitely are the voice and hold the imagination of East Palo Alto in the palms of their hands. They take the risks and hold the promise and through them there is the active HOPE of East Palo Alto.

Below are images of the Creative Process, and I am a huge fan of the idea of “trusting the process.” That is where the real magic happens, when you are making the art! The final piece is on three canvas panels, each 36”x48”, with the word HOPE emblazoned across the top and the quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

-Scape Martinez, Artist in Residence

A Family Affair

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

MMAP La Familia at Summer Community Celebration & Unveiling

On August 23rd, MMAP commemorated East Palo Alto’s thirtieth anniversary as well as celebrated the hard work of this summer’s Teen Mural Program (TMP). Over the summer, TMP students learned about Movements: The Flow of Ideas, People & Resources. Together, they explored past and present social movements and through their artwork came conversations about community, change, and hope. Below is the final mural conceptualized by Artist in Residence, Scape Martinez, and created by Teen Muralists.

Hope, East Palo Alto City Hall, 2415 University Ave, East Palo Alto, CA 94303

This mural draws on movements of social change for inspiration.  Large blue spheres dominate the piece signifying the three branches of government, and the block-like structures give a sense of rigidness to show society’s resistance to change. The design uses abstracted form, color, and space to depict the energy and tension inherent in social movements, aiming to ultimately spread a positive message: “HOPE.”

The culminating celebration was an event filled with love and the spirit of East Palo Alto’s thirty years and beyond was truly felt. It was only right that Poetess Kalamu Chache began the program with a beautiful invocation. Chief Ronald Davis and City Manager Magda Gonzalez spoke to East Palo Alto’s thirtieth anniversary and commemorated the work of over 120 youth in MMAP’s Graffiti Art Project’s (GAP) public art project celebrating the 30th anniversary.

From left to right: Kalamu Chache, Chief Ronald Davis, & City Manager Magda Gonzalez.

Writer and author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Stanford University’s Executive Director of Institute for the Diversity in the Arts, Jeff Chang was the Keynote speaker. In addition, he was also one of TMP’s interviewees this summer. He spoke on the power of the youth movement and that force of art and culture has on changing society.

Jeff Chang delivered an inspiring keynote at this year’s EPA Summer Community Celebration and Mural Unveiling

Of course, the best part of the unveiling is the youth performances. This year TMP’s lyrical cohort was all female and they rocked it. Below is Kiki and Yvonne, both students at Eastside College Preparatory. It was Kiki’s first time in the lyrical cohort and her cadence and rhyme made it seem as if she was a veteran.

Yvonne and Kiana share their lyrics with the crowd at this year’s EPA Summer Community Celebration and Mural Unveiling

This summer in East Palo Alto was a family affair that truly spoke to the power of community and hope. The foundations were built and now the work begins. Cheers to all that was celebrated and accomplished this summer. Be sure to check out the Hope mural as well as the 30- year public art that is displayed at East Palo Alto’s City Hall.

View the entire 2013 Summer Booklet of Programs and Events: 2013 Summer Booklet

Summer on Smash

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

It’s safe to borrow the words from Nas that this summer was a “Summer on Smash.” MMAP served over 250 youth this year through the Teen Mural Program, Open Studios Program, EPAA Summer Bridge Program, Gateway to Science Program. The last two weeks were filled with hard work, dedication and celebration with our Teen Mural Program unveilings reaching a whole new level.

The East Palo Alto Teen Mural Program Unveiling and Community Celebration was on fire with the entire community out in support. TMP youth killed the performances, the new office was set to showcase our expansion, and an elated spirit filled the air.

TMP EPA Dance Cohort performance

TMP EPA Youth Performing

San Francisco Teen Mural Program reached a milestone this year, with MMAP’s first mural painted outside in the city of San Francisco. Students showcased their work and made their voices heard.

Jessie, Aquila, Adrian and Kian hyping the crowd

TMP SF group photo

MMAP would like to express gratitude to all that supported the Teen Mural Program this summer. We would not have been able to achieve all that we were able to without everyone’s belief in our vision and voice.

TMP Design Workshops Take on a Whole New Level

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

It’s grind time! After weeks of conducting primary and secondary source research, the youth were ready for the most important day of TMP – the design workshop! Even though both of our TMP cohorts conducted similar research, each student shared their visions that come from family histories and personal stories. They all made their voices heard as individuals and used the power of collective voice, speaking the truth through imagery.

TMP SF student James showcasing his idea

In East Palo Alto, the youth huddled for hours in the East Palo Alto Academy gymnasium until they narrowed their mural ideas from over 500 to 10 – talk about process of elimination! There were five initial cohorts made up of youth and staff that rotated between five stations:  Voice in the Media, Power in Collective Voice, Voice in Education, Voice in Technology, and Voice in Democracy. After hours of getting those mind-juices flowing, the youth produced over 700 sticky notes, which translates into over 700 different ideas!

TMP EPA Design workshop aftermath

Arturo Maldonado holding down the Power in Collective Voice station rotation at TMP EPA

TMP SF’s design workshop had a similar process, which took place at the Shih Yu-Lang Central YMCA. Check out how much swag they have after a long day of work!

TMP SF Swagger

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Speaking the Truth

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Hip hop is more than just music – it serves as a vehicle for social change that empowers and educates our youth. In our TMP East Palo Alto class on Monday, our TMP youth had the privilege of interviewing two prominent hip hop scholars and “OGs” (Original Geniuses): Jeff Chang, Executive Director at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford, and H. Samy Alim, renowned Professor in the Social Sciences, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies in Education.

Jeff Chang and H. Samy Alim

Professor Alim spoke on hip hop’s ability to create global connections and to provide a voice to institutionally silenced people and communities:

“. . . when Chang was talking about the riots of ‘92, and in his 2005 book [Can’t Stop Won’t Stop], you have a huge portion on Ice Cube’s raps, and the media didn’t realize that all of the stuff, the tension, and the negative and positive was already being talked about on the record. And that same year, Paris had some riots, same exact scenario. So you have people of color, largely from Africa, trying to make a life and be accepted into French society but being treated the same way we’re being treated here, and when people went ballistic on Paris, we went, ‘oh this hip hop is trying to tell us something.’ And hip hop has played that role. Marginalized young people have been speaking out through hip hop. And I think hip hop has . . . given us [people of color] an avenue to share that voice.”

Hip hop continues to break borders and connect communities with an understanding of similar struggles. From East Palo Alto to Oakland to Philadelphia to Syria and Senegal, youth are sharing their voice.

As the TMP students are in the midst of the research phase and interviewing key players like Chang and Alim, they are simultaneously processing what they are learning through artistic expression. Jeff Chang spoke the truth by stating:

“I believe that arts can produce social justice by creating new imagination for ways that society can be, and I believe that artists are the key to social change. And all of that I got through hip hop, ‘cause hip hop in a lot of ways changed my whole way of looking at the world.”

Through the process of reflection and sharing their ideas, the students are doing just what Chang speaks to: imagining a new societal paradigm that fits all people’s dreams and needs. The first vision comes with education . . . MY EDUCATION.


H. Samy Alim with TMP Students

MMAP is a Family

Friday, August 5th, 2011

MMAP is proud to have begun its work in East Palo Alto in 2001. Since this time, community safety has been a central theme in the mission of our program’s work. With tireless collaboration between efforts from law enforcement, community organizations, political entities, and community members, EPA has drastically reduced its crime rate so much so that in 2010, it had its lowest murder rate in 20 years. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, violence has risen, breaking the heart of our community and affecting- directly & indirectly- the youth of EPA.

Last week, MMAP reached out to Alejandro Vilchez, a seasoned veteran at addressing violence in communities like EPA and equipping youth with alternate solutions to combatting violence in their own community, and invited him to the MMAP house to speak with our youth. Not only did “Mr. Homie” educate our TMA’s about the ills of violence to our bodies, our spirits and our communities, but he also empowered us with skills to “fight” this violence in our minds and out. The entire experience was beyond inspirational to both staff and students, and as a MMAP family, we thank Alejandro Vilchez for his time, energy, and his expertise to our cause. One love.

Alejandro Vilchez poses with our TMA's in front of the MMAP house

Design Workshop: Empowering youth through the arts

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

The last two days of East Palo Alto’s program were filled with inspiring stories of young people taking the lead to make changes in their communities.

The East Palo Alto organization Youth United for Community Action (YUCA) bestowed inspiration amongst the TMAs about how they could, despite age, fight against injustices in their communities through a multitude of mediums. YUCA fights for Environmental Justice in East Palo Alto by addressing major problems that face the community such as Environmental Racism and Gentrification.  Anna, the program director at YUCA, started working with the organization when she was 14 years old and is upon her 13th year with them. Testaments such as hers showed the TMAs that getting involved at a young age has major benefits and fruitful outcomes for the cause that one stands up for and can lead to endless opportunities.

YUCA visits with the TMAs

With this in mind, ideas for imagery exploded in the Design Workshop with the youth drawing ideas for youth empowerment and vision from past interviews and research.  It was an inspirational day as youth make the transition from research to the expression phase.

Imelda shares her vision

Lucia, Mr. C. and Yeli watch intently

Every problem is an opportunity in disguise

Monday, July 18th, 2011

On Monday, July 11, 2011, patent lawyer Munes Tomeh took the EPA TMAs on the frontlines of the tumultuous times in Syria.  He spoke about the importance of recognizing, accepting and reconciling one’s multiple identities to respect oneself and just as importantly, respect other people.  Mr. Tomeh ended his talk with a memorable and thought-provoking statement of “the means are just as important as the ends,” and left all the students really pondering the most efficient and moral ways to achieve positive social change.

Munes Tomeh and TMAs against a fitting background urging us to "Strive"

The TMAs got an amazing opportunity to explore the world of venture capitalism when they spoke with 500 Startups’s Enrique Allen. Much of his conversation dealt with the process that is involved when innovation occurs. He spoke about how most innovation that occurs is because there is a need for a solution to some problem. Furthermore, he went on to say that “every problem is an opportunity in disguise,” and that everyone should take advantage of them. It was a very interesting lecture that left many of the youth thinking about the ideas they could come up with and provided more insight as to how the private sector has influenced web 2.0.

Enrique speaks to the group at 500 Start Ups

The sky is the limit

Friday, July 1st, 2011

On Friday the East Palo Alto Teen Mural Assistants interviewed three local leaders who embody MMAP’s commitment to the arts as a means of social change: Professor H. Samy Alim, hip hop expert, Stanford University Associate Professor,  and Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts; Edward “Scape” Martinez, graffiti virtuoso of more than two decades and writer of “GRAFF: the Art and Technique of Graffiti” and “GRAFF 2: Next Level Graffiti Techniques”; and Sonya Clark-Herrera, Executive Director of MMAP. In their own way, these three leaders have made a tremendous impact on MMAP youth.

Through their respective art forms, Professor Alim, Scape and Sonya have crafted a life dedicated to achieving progress in society.   For them, vision is looking beyond the status quo, breaking out of a socially prescribed box and taking what you love to run with as fast and as passionately as you can. Scape sums up the power of the arts, “If you can capture that energy [of the arts] and steer it in the right way, the sky is the limit.”

Prof. Alim, Scape and Sonya with the Teen Mural Assistants

Listen as Christian Salinas, TMP Intern and recent graduate from East Palo Alto Academy High School, describes the interview:

The creative, driven group of Teen Mural Assistants participated in art workshops to learn more thoroughly about the technical aspects of graffiti, mural-making, and hip hop.  At the same time learning about the youth-led uprisings of the Civil War in the 1960s, and more recently in Egypt and Tunisia, the Teen Mural Assistants are grasping their ability to make change.  They are on their way to designing nothing short of a brilliant, historically-centered, community-driven mural in East Palo Alto.

Thank you again to our panelists! Here you may learn more about our guest speakers:

Professor H. Samy Alim:

Edward “Scape” Martinez:

What’s your vision?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

MMAP’s Teen Mural Assistants reflected, composed and shared their vision of themselves, and their vision for their communities.  Here is one vision expressed by MMAP veteran, Ashon Hunter (Eastside College Prep, 11th grade), in front of the backdrop of the Graffiti Arts Project’s mural, “Strive.”

These dreams and ambitions translate to goals

All resulting in pressure for success and yes unfold

But I plan to expand in all areas of life

Overriding expectations rising above pain and strife

See I got long-term visions for all types of things

From getting a masters’ degree or everyday hoop dreams

But I gotta stay focused and positive as well

Or else life can tear you down faster than an ACL

See I got a vision for myself that’s buried in wealth

Being in tip top shape accompanied by good health

Or coming back to Oakland town

Donating stacks to education fully flipping it around

Or becoming a wise mayor of EPA

Establishing safety for tomorrow and even today

But as obstacles spring up all up in my path

It makes it hard to proceed like doing complex math

But I’m going to look long-term and live life thankfully

Knowing that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Congrats to Ashon, and the rest of the TMA’s! The MMAP family looks forward to what the summer has in store.