Susan Kelk Cervantes

Susan Kelk Cervantes, muralist and dedicated artist for 47 years, a pioneer of the SF community mural art movement, and the founder and director of the Precita Eyes Muralists in the Mission District of San Francisco. Established in 1977, Precita Eyes is one of only a handful of community mural arts centers in the United States.

Influenced by the Mujeres Muralistas, the first collaborative group of women muralists, Cervantes has applied the same process of accessible, community art to any size mural or age group through community mural workshops.

Cervantes is responsible for more than 400 murals (including the murals on the Women’s Building) considered some of the finest in the country. She is dedicated to enhancing the environment through the creation of murals while involving and educating the community about the process and history of public community mural art. Her deep commitment to collaboration guarantees that the creative work produced is accessible, both physically and conceptually, to the people whose lives it impacts.

“The mural movement itself is ethnically based. When you get ready to create a mural somewhere you’re sensitive to that place and its history. We’re constantly finding new ways to express the history that we all share and make it more visible. Murals beautify and enhance a drab environment, just the colors alone. They are uplifting, life affirming.”

“Murals are a real peoples art. People feel it is for them and about them. It concerns their hopes and dreams for a better future for everyone.”

“Balmy Alley is a mural destination for visitors. As the coordinator of the mural restoration project, I feel that it is most important to start there, and then work outward.”

“A mural is a bridge to the community. The artists communicate with the people; meetings are held to discuss the issues. The result is a reflection, a mirror of that community.”

“I don’t think of any one culture while I am painting. I try to bring out what’s common in people. Hopefully they’ll see themselves in my work.”

“I don’t think that there should be any restrictions or censorship placed by governments on artists. I certainly feel visual information has a lot of power, but people should not fear it.”

“My social responsibility as a public artist is to reflect the diversity of a community.”

“People in the community have concerns, and it is important that they have a voice. Public art gives people that voice. It gives them the visibility of the hopes and dreams of their community.”

“We believe hat through the various processes of creating public art, youth develop as artists and gain confidence in their ability to have a voice in the cultural life and the positive transformation of their city.”

“Their vision is ours. This is our home, where we live and raise our families. We are proud of it.”

“Every single kid has a design in this mural. No one was excluded from that opportunity, so they all feel that they’re a part of it, and not separate from it… so it’s really truly their mural.”

“It is great being outside and painting really large, but more important was I saw how muralists worked with each other in a collaborative way, and respected each other’s efforts, and trying to paint what was important. And then the passersby would offer comments and I realized how important it was for artists to be visible to the community, and how good it was to have art become part of everyday life.”

“Everyday you should be able to walk outside and see something being created. ”

“Art is not part of what we see, and not part of what our children see. It’s so sad. I see cultural genocide occurring. There’s a whole generation of kids without exposure to art. They haven’t learned about what’s inside them.”

“When we express our feelings through art, it’s a release. It makes you begin to care and have compassion for things around you, if you see yourself in something you’ve made.”

“There is an artist within everyone and if everyone were creating something at the same moment there would be peace felt all over the world. ”

-Susan Cervantes

Please visit Susan Cervantes’ website:

Susan Cervantes at work at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Spiral of Life, 1968

Transparent Ecstacy, 1969

Family Life Mural, 1977

Celestial Cycles, 1982

Our Children Are Our Reincarnation, 1982

Susan Kelk Cervantes_CV

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