Shepard Fairey’s Maya Angelou mural at Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School in South Los Angeles. Photo Credit Seth Spector

Recently, Branded Arts celebrated the Maya Angelou Mural Festival, as a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) mural festival series. Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School in South Los Angeles was visited by over two-dozen local and international artists commissioned to paint a series of murals throughout the school May 13 – 18. Branded Arts founder, Warren Brand, spoke to the Sentinel about the mural festival series.

“Branded Arts is dedicated to make a positive social impact in communities everywhere we can,” said Brand. “Over the last 8 years, we’ve produced over 350 public and private mural projects around the world.”

He continued, “Branded Arts recently completed a group of murals at THE RESERVE LA, a new 20-acre creative campus in Playa Vista, housing Microsoft, Sony PlayStation and TMZ.”

Students work on murals during the week-long mural festival series at Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School. Photo Credit Seth Spector

An L.A. native, Brand attended community college at Santa Monica and studied art history. He states that art has been a central part of his life.

“I’m an art collector and started curating popup art galleries in 2009,” said Brand. “We were doing murals to promote the popup galleries that would support different charities.

“We realized the murals were becoming more impactful than the popup galleries were, and started focusing more and more on those.

“People started reaching out, asking us to produce projects for them, and it really blossomed from there.”

Projects were aimed to send an inspirational and positive message to kids ranging from 9th to 12th grade. Photo Credit Seth Spector

In a desire to promote arts in school, these projects also aim to send an inspirational and positive message to kids ranging from 9th to 12th grade. Murals were painted throughout the week with the school gymnasium transformed into a gallery exhibition space featuring work from over 50 artists, as well as artwork from the students.

For the Maya Angelou Mural Festival, Branded Arts brought in talent from both the local and international art community. L.A.-based artists such as the all-female art collective, Ni Santas, Raul Gonzalez, Victoria Cassinova, Enk One, Rob Hill, Brushwork, and more, created murals alongside legends like Shepard Fairey, Faith 47, Hugeart, and Rabi of Cyrcle, to name a few. Participating artists in the festival were challenged to create murals that fit within the cultural landscape of the community and the ideals of Dr. Maya Angelou.

Branded Arts announced a special collaboration with Dr. Maya Angelou High School, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Daniel Arsham Studio. Through combining scientific revelry, creative curiosity, and community spirit, Branded Arts will host a special poster contest that invites students to create artwork that both informs and educates. Students participating in this special contest will have a chance to win a signed book by Daniel Arsham and special NASA gear.

“I hope this will inspire kids and show them they can actually have a career in the creative economy if they want one,” said Brand.

The project was a collaboration with LAUSD local district central staff under Superintendent Roberto Antonio Martinez. This is the second in a series of mural festivals designed to transform school campuses into artistic canvases, which began in 2016 with a mural festival at Robert F. Kennedy Community School in Koreatown.

“The Maya Angelou Mural Festival has been in the planning stages for two years, alongside Branded Arts, a consortium of artists spearheaded by Warren Brand,” said Martinez. “The purpose of the festival is to bring the visual arts to South Los Angeles and ensure that our students and community members recognize the power of art as the medium of expression and identity not only for individuals but for a society, a city.

Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter, Miguel, performs at grand reception ending the week-long mural series at Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School. Photo Credit Seth Spector

Martinez continued, “We also wanted to ensure that the woman, Maya Angelou, whom our school is named after, continues to live through her words and images. Her struggles and triumphs embody the spirit of hope, perseverance and accomplishment, that which we want our students to live by for the rest of their lives.”

Throughout the week, the school hosted an academic symposium, featuring programming by NASA JPL, LACMA, Artsy, Self Help Graphics, Eddie Huang, Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC, and many more. The mural series culminated Saturday, May 18, with a grand reception featuring a conversation and performance with Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter, Miguel, and a preliminary talk from Torri Shack of Tangible Movement.

“This is a community enrichment project for South L.A.,” said Brand. “This is the second mural festival we’ve done at a school in Los Angeles in partnership with LAUSD, and there will be more to come.”

Sponsors and partners for the event included LACMA, BEHR Paint, Ironlak, NASA JPL, KITH, Adidas Originals, Mosaic Art Foundation, Creative Constellations, Thinkspace Gallery, Newmark Knight Frank,, Represent Global, The Mayfair Hotel, HyperX and Hello Stranger Creative.

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