Maya Angelou Rise Above Mural at Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School

May 20, 2019

I’m proud of this Maya Angelou mural “Maya Angelou Rise Above,” which I just finished on Friday evening, and I was excited to be asked to paint at Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School for several reasons. First, I think the power and value of art should be emphasized wherever possible, but especially at a high school where young people are developing their world views and are still idealistically searching for the right paths forward. Second, I have been a fan of Maya Angelou’s writing since I read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in my 20’s, and I think she is an excellent example of using creativity to overcome adversity and express yourself on your own terms. Maya Angelou is a role model as a thinker, creator, and social-justice warrior. She has an incredible number of great quotes, but I chose “Hate has created a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet” because we are living in a moment politically when many people seem to be choosing hate over compassion, but also because I think the quote is a good message for a high school.

The second image is of a mother and daughter who paid a visit to the mural, both of whom are teachers. The woman on the right has been a teacher since 1950! Several teachers came over to thank me for doing the mural, and it was obvious how deeply they care about the students! I value teachers and support all initiatives to raise their pay.

The mural is a big one, and the wall surface is pretty rough, so it was hard work for me and my crew of Dan Flores, Nic Bowers, Luka Densmore, Rob Zagula and Keya Tama, but we completed the mural in four days despite some strong winds. Thank you to the staff from Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School, LAUSD, and Warren Brand and his Branded Arts crew, who were extremely helpful and great to work with. A bunch of other talented artists painted at the school too, so check it out if you can.

– Shepard