A $5 million grant was awarded to the Social and Public Art Resource Center to use over three years in its effort to support preservation, activation and expansion of the Great Wall of Los Angeles, SPARC announced Friday.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the money to SPARC to use for the wall, which SPARC said was the largest monument to interracial harmony in the U.S. The money will also help support the wall’s muralist and SPARC co-founder Judy Baca as she advances the work of the mural and develops digital techniques and resources to enhance community engagement and help future artists.

The Great Wall of Los Angeles is a National Historic Site that portrays L.A.’s historic and ethnic identity at the Tujunga Wash in the San Fernando Valley. The wall, created by Baca and other artists between 1976 and 1983, spans the history of underrepresented communities from pre-colonial times to the 1950s.

“When you disappear the river, you disappear the stories of the people,” said Baca, who has described the wall as “a tattoo on the scar where the river once ran.”

SPARC is working to extend the mural to reflect L.A.’s marginalized communities between the 1960s and 2020.

“The Great Wall serves to educate us on the often forgotten history and legacy of marginalized groups. This funding is another step in fulfilling the vision for The Great Wall and SPARC’s mission of the public’s engagement through art,” Baca said.

SPARC will also use the funding to add an interpretive green bridge to serve as a viewing platform for visitors, six interpretive stations to provide a narrative understanding of the imagery and context, and lighting at the wall.

“Our goal is to provide the community, visitors and tourists with the opportunity to learn about California’s indigenous and minority histories,” said Carlos Rogel, executive director of SPARC.

“This funding allows us to increase accessibility and attention to The Great Wall of Los Angeles, which recognized communities of color as holders of knowledge and that their history is valued and part of the story of California central to the United States.”

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