Oakland Street Art for Change.: The voice of the people

Tour curated by: Arianna Cruz-Sellu

Oakland is a city of changemakers, people who see the system work to change/dismantle it. My tour will be of places that centralize the experiences of change makers through art that is displayed on the streets of Oakland. Street art is the voice of the people. The means of expression for those artists who needed to make a statement yet did not have the ability to create what would be considered to be high art. As a result street art has been a tool of many changemakers in order to make a statement about necessary change as is so extremely clear in the city of Oakland.

Oakland has many forms of street art, whether they be statues or wall murals. As a young college interested in the ways that social change take place I must be able to take in all of the lessons from those who have come before me to create change. Education can take many forms you must be willing to understand the real change that social movements make. No matter the source pain is a human experience and pain expressed through art allows artists to share their experience and express their emotions in a lasting way. I chose this topic due to the importance of receiving education about not only the experiences and facts but the pain and expression. Street art is just one form of art that has been used to record the experiences surrounding social change in Oakland.

This tour is a bus tour, as the length is much too long to walk alone and a car tour does not adequately give viewers an understanding of the importance of the context of the art. The street art will not only be affected by the experience it is portraying but the neighborhood it is placed in as well. As a map creator in Oakland it is crucial to take into account not only the neighborhoods which created the art I will experience but the colonization that created those neighborhoods. The tour is designed with people in similar circumstances to mine in mind. People who are interested in creating social change and are interested in the effect of social justice movements on Oakland as a city and as an identity. Any person who takes this tour will hopefully have their horizons broadened as they witness the way power, love and pain have been expressed through street art all over Oakland.

There is a possibility that after accomplishing this project and creating the tour I may come to realize that my initial order of starting in the middle and touring art all over Oakland from there may not have the amount of organization that I desire and for that reason the order of the tour is subject to change. This tour is limited by the content as so much of Oakland has a place in the tour. Every neighborhood has different forms of street art that varies based on the history and population of the neighborhood. It will not be possible to include all of the different forms of street art based in social change in Oakland in ten pins. I must be willing to accept that it will not be possible to put every important and beautiful piece of street art into this tour. As a Black queer person who was born in San Francisco and grew up in Portland, Oregon I have seen the ways in which gentrification can ruin a community. Often turning the history of a neighborhood into a commodity while erasing at the same time. Those who take the tour will be having a tourist experience of Oakland and there is a possibility of it becoming unsafe if tourists are not able to take into account their placement and privilege within the situation.


Locations for Tour

There are actually multiple Hands of Peace but for the use of this tour there is only one pin of the address. The other addresses of the Hands of Peace are Fruitvale and East 23rd, International and 38th, Fruitvale and East 27tth, International and…

This piece is the mural which is painted on the the side of Qilombo, a “radical community social center”. This piece represents the entrance into Afrikatown. This piece faces the Afrikatown Community Garden which is an open community garden in…

This piece is called Pedal Power to the People. Every human represented in this piece is on one form or another of a bicycle. This piece discusses the need to take care of Earth and how that in itself is important and revolutionary. The bike…

The focus of this piece is a call to action as so many of the other pieces are. It so simply with one phrase creates an ask of viewers “Decolonize”. In the very center of the piece one arm reaches up. The figure reaches up as a representation…

This piece is one specific part of the larger mural that is on Marcus Bookstore. Marcus Bookstore is the nation’s oldest Black bookstore, it was originally named Success Bookstore when the owners realized the need for a Black bookstore and was…

This piece illustrates what is defines as two choices. On one side there is an industrial “Factory Prison” on a desolate land, the ground is black, the tree appears to be dead, there are a couple buildings that seem to be some kind of chemical…

This pin is the Oakland Palestine Solidarity mural. This mural has seven trees on it, each tree represents a different aspect of solidarity which artists attempt to portray. The artists of the piece each come from different experiences, the racial…

This image is on 30th and West. I do not have historical facts about this image which is what has recently created challenges within my tour, much of the most beautiful and important radical street art in Oakland has no history that I can google but…

This is a mural that is on the plain gray wall of the freeway overpass on High Street right off of MacArthur. This mural says eRACISM in white bold letters. This image is one of a four part “Roads by Words” art project that was created by…

“It is the people who chose the most difficult road and changed our world forever that I want to honor with my art, and in turn, inspire others to follow in their footsteps”-Mario Chiodo This is one of the largest humanitarian monuments in the…