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Artists: Fabian Debora, Alex Kizu, and Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez
Guest Curator: Annie Buckley (’03 MFA)
Bridging Homeboy Industries features the work of Fabian Debora, Alex Kizu, and Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez, three working artists who share roots in the East L.A. neighborhood of Boyle Heights, a close-knit community beset by poverty and violence. Though their paths and practices are unique, each has benefited from the services of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention program in the nation. Founded as a jobs program by Father Gregory Boyle in 1992, Homeboy Industries continues to thrive as a network of successful businesses supported and run by former gang members. Two decades on, Debora, Kizu, and Muñoz Hernandez all count Father Boyle—or G, as he is fondly referred to by many—as a mentor, supporter, and friend. He is the person who saw in them the artists they would become and who fostered a sense of hope and possibility for them during times when these were scarce. This encouragement, combined with their own relentless passion for art, fed their development as artists.
During what G [Father Greg Boyle] calls the ‘decade of death’, I got into a lot of trouble, but Father Greg, no matter what I did, was always encouraging me to do my art. … I felt hopeless, but G would hire us to do murals and artwork, and now I realize that those acts of faith helped me to overcome many of the obstacles that I faced as a youth.
Fabian Debora, who is now a staff-member at Homeboy Industries, makes compellingly honest paintings influenced by Chicano and contemporary representational art. Alex Kizu's color-infused canvases feature variations on the highly complex and ornate graffiti lettering he learned as a boy from local street artists and knowledge gained as a recent graduate of the Art Department of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez's bronze sculptures and spray paint and marker paintings fuse graffiti with diagrammatic architectural drawings and grow out of an 18-year apprenticeship with the sculptor Robert Graham and a background in street art. This exhibition includes several works by each artist and a new, large-scale collaborative mural.
Under the direction of Otis Faculty Ysamur Flores-Pena, Otis students have been working closely with Homeboy Industries in a variety of ways since 2007. The following is a list of blogs from each Creative Action Course. (The following links my be active only for the Otis Community or while on campus.)
G-dog and the Homeboys: Father Greg Boyle and the Gangs of East Los Angeles by Celeste Fremon with a foreword by Tom Brokaw. Summary: This book originally published in 1995 updates us on the lives of the East Los Angeles homeboys with whom Father Greg Boyle continues to work, allowing for an analysis as to how some former gang members are able to make it out, while others are not. Call Number: HV6439 U7 L784 2008
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle. Summary: Father Boyle started Homeboy Industries nearly 20 years ago, providing jobs and training for members of more than half the gangs in Los Angeles. This collection presents parables about kinship and the sacredness of life drawn from Boyle's years of working with gangs. Call Number: BV4517 B665 2010
The Gangs of Los Angeles by William Dunn. Summary: The Gangs of Los Angeles is a classic, real life account of American crime. From the early Tomato Gangs of 1890's Boyle Heights to the modern Crips and Mara Salvatrucha, with side trips through an Irish Dogtown, the gang wars of "Happy Valley", Sleepy Lagoon and the yellow journalism of the Hearst Press, and a tragic murder at Sunset and Vine, Dunn recounts the events and notorious denizens that spawned LA's gang subculture. Call Number: HV6439 U7 L732 2007
Wallbangin’: Graffiti and Gangs in L.A. by Susan A. Phillips. Call Number: GT3913.13 C2 P55 1999
Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern California by James Diego Vigil. Call Number: HV6439 U5 L8 1988
East Side Stories: Gang Life in East L.A. Photographs by Joseph Rodríguez; Essay by Rubén Martínez; Interview with Luis J. Rodríguez. Call Number: HV6439 U7 E2257 1998