02-06-2020 Caitlin Bruce

Title: "Ciudad de Murales: Cultivating Acceptance through Nationalist and Regional Imagery"

Presenter: Caitlin Bruce, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh

Abstract:  This talk comes from a larger book project: Citizen Voices in Aerosol: León's Graffiti Worlds explores the history of graffiti in León Guanajuato Mexico from 2000 to 2018 asking how the history of graffiti exposes recurring questions and tensions over the definition of youth, the urban image, and civic voice (the conjunction of sovereignty/citizenship). Chapter 4: Ciudad de Murales: Cultivating Acceptance through Nationalist and Regional Imagery. In 2010 legal graffiti was supported by the mayor and the Municipal Youth Institute leading to two years of high visibility sponsorship of murals concentrated on themes that either related to the bicentennial; iconic representations of Mexican culture; or León specific images. This project involved a significant social media presence, and I draw on interviews with the director, and subdirector as well as with participants during that period to address this high point of optimism. The project was called "City of Murals" and in the announcement the youth institute reflected the goal of rivaling Philadelphia in number and quality of murals. Through their Youtube channel, LeónUrban, managed and produced by Fernando Quiroga (SPOK), playful interviews with creative animation and jump cuts and background music that shifted between hip hop, rap, or the sounds of spray cans, served to humanize, and, crucially, individualize writers. In this chapter I discuss contesting perspective about government sponsorship articulated by writers at the time, and how an ongoing tension between legal and illegal is made more dramatic.

Bio:  Caitlin Frances Bruce is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. She explores public art, urban space, and public feelings in transnational and transitional contexts. She received her PhD from Northwestern University in Communication Studies from the Rhetoric and Public Culture Program. She is a former Fulbright García-Robles/COMEXUS Postdoctoral Fellow, and has received grants from the WFI Institute, American Studies Association, and Urban Communication Foundation, among other entities. Her first book, Painting Publics: Transnational Legal Graffiti Scenes as Spaces for Encounter, was published with Temple University Press in March 2019. Her other writings have appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Critical/Cultural Communication Studies, Communication Culture & Critique, Public Art Dialogue, Subjectivities, Geohumanities, Women's Studies in Communication, and Invisible Culture. She is a contributing editor for Mediapolis, and a former writer for Sixty Inches From Center. She is also the Program Director of Hemispheric Conversations: Urban Art Project (hcuap.com).