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Murals: An Artist’s Way of Cherishing the Community’s Past

Murals: An Artist’s Way of Cherishing the Community’s Past

by Yash Saboo August 1 2018, 3:09 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 11 secs

A perfect shot of yourself in front of a graffiti wall sounds like "the" plan to show it off on the 'Gram. While some may walk past these gorgeous solid blocks of bricks, ignoring it completely, others may stop to admire it. But not many know the history behind the art or the ever-changing communities that showcase them.

And this is what Muralist Clinton Bopp is trying to change.

'Flower Power' Acrylic and Aerosol 8' x8' LA (

Artist Clinton Bopp was born and raised in Lower Hutt, New Zealand to an American father and New Zealand mother. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1998. Clinton’s work is deeply inspired by people, their culture and the surroundings he experiences at any given time. Whether the energy of the city or nature around him, all of life’s heartbeat influences his art. Bopp (painter, muralist, stone/wood carver, sculptor, designer, set designer, restorer, and teacher) is committed to (through his art) revealing the profound inter-connectedness of people and the world around him.   

He noticed his favourite communities of Los Angeles were changing, so he put his paintbrush to work. “With gentrification happening more than ever, it’s incredibly important to use murals to depict communities as they are now,” Bopp says.

Clinton Bopp at his studio with Stardust (Photo by Evan Romanoff)

“Murals are a very unique way to capture that spirit and tell that story in a lasting way — regardless of what kind of gentrification could happen in the future. You just hope that murals will be preserved and remain a fixture regardless of change so that the history can remain intact and impactful.”

The Los Angeles City Council in 2013 lifted a decade-long ban on public murals, marking a decisive victory for artists who argued the law made no sense in a city with such a rich tradition of street art. After this, Artists like Bopp were able to reclaim their community's streets. Putting his unparalleled talents to work through his murals, Bopp hopes to share generational stories of at-risk neighbourhoods.

"Murals have always been a form of communication and storytelling that can last generations,” says Bopp. “They instill values, history and create conversation amongst the community across generations which uplift everyone who sees them. It’s a powerful thing to remind people where they have been, where they are going, and where they are now.”

'Innocent Wonder' Acrylic and Aerosol 14'x17' Venice, CA (

The impact of these murals can be seen. When a local school was having issues with racial tension, Bopp collaborated with their principal to create an artistic way to bridge the gap between the area’s black and Latin American communities, which sometimes faced conflict.

“[The principal] understood the power of visual images and how they can convey messages that transcend language and cultural barriers and bridge the gap,” Bopp says. “Showing the similarities that both groups have endured sent the right message.”

Bopp makes it a point to not only paint in different communities but also gets to know them too. Getting at the history of community is a central component to the artist’s work. Bopp uses those meetings and community engagement experiences to shape his projects in ethical and meaningful ways. This engagement leads to a better project, says Bopp.

Clinton Bopp is an artist with a unique, hard-earned style and technique firmly planted in the 21st century.  Living and working in a digital age, but with the eye and skills of a renaissance artist, Clinton hopes to (through both his art and his teaching) bridge the gap between cultures and across the ages.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.