Lesson Four: Who Sees The Art?
(Mural Option)


Students identify the intended viewers of local murals or billboards. The teacher next shares information and leads a discussion about the patrons and intended viewers of Chicana/o and earlier murals. Students group themselves according to protest or persuasion issues that concern them. They then consider the intended viewers of their mural and how they might alter their planning of the mural in order for it to be more effective for those viewers.


1. Students learn that an art patron is a person who supports the work of an artist, for example by supplying their needs or commissioning or purchasing their artwork.

2. Students learn that art patrons have traditionally been royal or aristocratic families, religious or political leaders, or wealthy people.

3. Students learn that artists may have special viewers in mind as they mare their artworks.

4. Students learn that some Chicana/o and earlier artists have chosen to make murals so that more people may have the opportunity to view their work.


Visit any local murals, including any murals in the school. If no murals are available you may want to look for promotional or even commercial billboards, considering them as large, public, visual messages. (See Los Angeles Murals Homepage at http://latino.ssc net.ucla.edu/murals/index1.html) As you bring students' attention to individual murals (or billboards) ask:

  • How do you think this was made? (materials, processes, tools, equipment)
  • Why do you think the artist or designer chose this method of production? (cost, visual impact, personal enjoyment of or skill with process, other)
  • How many people do you think were involved in the mural process, from getting the idea to completion? List some of the tasks that someone would have to carry out.
  • Whom do you think the artist or designer especially wanted to see it?
  • What impact do you think the artist or designer wanted to have on the viewer?
  • How might the artist or designer have planned it in order that it have the desired effect?
  • Mural Lesson Index

    Next, display the Diego Rivera fresco and Judith Baca Mural detail. Click on either artist's name for more detailed information.Next, display the Diego Rivera fresco and Judith Baca Mural detail. Click on either artist's name for more detailed information.

    Next, display the Diego Rivera fresco and Judith Baca Mural detail. Click on either artist's name for more detailed information.

  • Diego Rivera Diego Rivera painted Revolt and The New Religion as sections of a much larger mural in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
  • Judith Baca's Olympic Champions, 1948-1964, Breaking the Barriers is a detail of perhaps the world's longest mural entitled The Great Wall of Los Angeles, which is painted on the wall of a drainage wash.
  • Viewer Lesson Index

    Display the Viewer Icon. Explain that a patron is an important viewer of an artwork. Define an art patron as a person who supports the work of an artist, for example by supplying the artist's needs or commissioning or purchasing their artwork. Explain further that some artists may intend that their artwork be viewed by various people in the community, not just by a patron. After identifying each work and giving its present location, pose the following questions for discussion:

  • Who do you think had to agree to the project before it could begin?
  • Do you think the artist made the work on her or his own or was the artist under the influence of a patron or supporters?
  • Do you think the artist was influenced by a patron or supporter. Who might that person or persons have been? (Dwight Morrow, American Ambassador to Mexico commissioned the Cuernavaca mural. For some of his murals Diego Rivera was paid the equivalent of two dollars a day. He supplemented his income making easel paintings. The Army Corps of Engineers contacted Baca in 1974 to paint her The Great Wall of Los Angeles mural. People from many government agencies, including the Flood Control District, the Juvenile Justice Department, and the Summer Youth Employment Program; community organizations; businesses; corporations foundations were involved in the project.)
  • Who do you think the artist wanted to see the artwork?
  • How do you think the artist may have planned the work in order to impress, please, or otherwise affect the intended viewers?
  • Conclude this lesson by asking students to share their protest or persuasions issues with the class to form into groups made up of students with similar or related issues. Next ask each group to identify the individual person (patron?) or category of people whom they hope will view their mural . Ask students to share with members of their group any preliminary sketches they may have done and to begin to sketch designs for a group mural. Ask students to focus especially on how they might be able to capture the attention of their intended viewers.


  • Who owns public art?
  • Does a patron have a right to change or deface an artwork s/he has commissioned?
  • What do you think happens to an artist who does not pay attention to rich and powerful people?


    You and your students might approach another teacher or principal as a possible patron for a school mural on a topic such as drug abuse prevention, academic areas, study skills, or safety. Other teachers or students not in your class might participate as intended viewers.


    In discussion of the Diego Rivera and Judith Baca murals, note whether students can speculate about the role and influence of patrons and viewers of the time on the artist's planning of his or her artwork. Confirm that students have made preliminary sketches and have identified intended viewers.

    Items for a Protest and Persuasion Portfolio might include:

  • notes on discussion about patrons and intended viewers
  • magazine and newspaper clippings about public art
  • preliminary sketch of mural
  • description of intended viewers of mural


    Protest Icon
    Mural Icon
    Viewer Icon
    Reproductions of works by Judith Baca and Diego Rivera. (See Computer Reproductions.)

    © 2001 Hispanic Research Center, Arizona State University. All Rights Reserved.