Berkeley and Oakland reap rewards of Bay Area Mural Festival

A story on Berkeleyside published Tuesday about new murals spotted around town prompted Sarah Siskin to get in touch. Many of the murals depicted in Tom Dalzell’s April 11 Quirky Berkeley story, she told us, were created as part of the inaugural Bay Area Mural Festival in October last year.

The festival (BAMFest) brought together 25 master muralists and mural groups, and 20 at-risk youth through a series of artist residencies and workshops, culminating in the creation of 13 murals along the Berkeley-Oakland border.

The murals depicted locally relevant migration and displacement stories, and were painted over the course of a week beginning on Oct. 17. The festival culminated with a community celebration with live music. An accompanying BAMFest lecture series took place at La Peña Cultural Center, a festival partner.

Writing about the project, Siskin said murals are important “because they bring art into the public sphere and attract public attention to social issues… Whether it be social emancipation or achieving a political goal, murals give a voice to the often voiceless, they can challenge the effects of displacement and the demands of a global market by allowing us to become actors in our own realities. They can be the necessary catalyst to motivate us to make real change.”

Siskin is hoping to hold another Bay Area Mural Festival this year. For more information about the murals and where they are located, supporting the festival, as well about the individual artists, visit the BAMFest website and connect with the organizers on Facebook.