News: History Department Assists in a Public Mural, Call for Artists

In this current political climate, art can convey a message for a community to unite behind. In Seattle, for example, Crystal Barbre created a mural for the outside of the 1st Ave. strip club DejaVu. It was a homage to female empowerment and Seattle’s marine roots; it depicted various topless mermaids cheekily facing the famous fish-throwers at Pike Place Market. However, Barbre received a message from the owners of DejaVu that the nipples on all of the women had to be covered. This was due to the restrictive ordinances on public art attached to strip clubs. The covering of the nipples sparked a controversial debate in the community, uniting people behind one cause. A video about the mural by Buzzfeed can be seen here, and cult newspaper The Stranger also wrote an article about it.

Though the city of Whittier seeks a slightly less controversial mural, the idea of unifying a community can still be achieved.

Whittier has a long and diverse history that many people don’t know about. Many understand it’s inclusive Quaker history, founded by settlers in honor of the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier. However, as with many things, there is more to Whittier than meets the eye. Before being the outer L.A. suburb that it is today, it was first a Tongva village called Ajaarvongna. From there it became a Mexican territory, a blooming orchard, a prosperous oil town, and finally the city that we’ve come to know. There is a long story behind the town of Whittier, and now someone wants to tell it.

Catalyst Network of Communities, in collaboration with the Whittier College History Department and the Whittier Historical Society and Museum, is putting together an oral history of Whittier, as well as a mural to be put on display for the town to see. Professor Zappia of the History Department will be overseeing the oral history component, and once finished the oral component will be a cloud based self guided tour of the mural created and the towns history.

The project, titled “Creative Reuse in Whittier’s Folk Art”, is currently seeking and artist or group of artists to design and submit proposals for the mural. The image will be 1000 square feet and be on the second floor of the west and south side walls of the First Christian Church Education building. There will be a budget of $5000 allocated to the artist for supplies and hiring manual labor, as well as other costs. The group will have already completed prepping the wall for paint as well as sidewalk scaffolding.

To submit an idea you must be and experienced and professional artist aged 21 or older. By December 5th you must submit by email:

  • a letter of interest with complete contact information,
  • up to 20 samples of your work attached in jpeg format, with a corresponding number list describing each image,
  • one or two pages of other biographical information.

The deadline for submissions is December fifth. To submit your materials or receive more information, email Megan Hobza at