Ryman Arts Alumna Mayra Moran - Painting the Stories of Los Angeles

By Mayra Moran (Ryman '10) 

As a Ryman Arts alumna of 2010, Mayra Moran reflects on her experiences in the program 8 years later and how it has shaped her personally, academically, and professionally. Inspired by her time at Ryman Arts, Mayra is pursuing a creative and socially engaging career. Today, she has contributed to the public art landscape of Los Angeles by creating murals for non-profits including Global GLOW, Wise Readers to Leaders, and Compton Initiative to produce a positive change in her community.

Mayra Moran (Ryman ’10) (center), artist Katie Phillips (far right), and the Global Glow team

In the years after graduating from Ryman Arts, I pursued a creative life and career, displaying my work in group shows at the California African American Museum and the Lindhurst Gallery during my undergraduate years at USC. That love of the arts transformed as I became more involved in my community and began creating murals in the Los Angeles area, commissioned by non-profits such as Global GLOW, Wise Readers to Leaders, and Compton Initiative. The biggest reward in creating public art is working with communities that are hungry for a brighter future and are taking action to get there. Witnessing the sense of accomplishment and pride from volunteers when these murals are finished is priceless.  Thus far, I have helped created the A Reader Today, Leader Tomorrow mural in the Garden Grove Elementary School Library of Reseda, the Herstory mural at the Bunche Middle School in Compton, and a set of three Compton Initiative murals in the eponymous neighborhood.

Commissioned by Global GLOW to celebrate International Day of the Girl, the mural demonstrates the importance of female role models and positive representation. Katie and I wanted to make sure we addressed it in this mural through diversity and unity.

Looking back at my time before Ryman Arts, arts education up until high school was very limited for me. I would anxiously wait for our once a month art history and craft lesson during elementary and middle school to explore my interest in art. Although it was something that I really enjoyed, my family did not have the means to send me to extra classes outside of school. Once I got to high school, I was finally able to take art as an extracurricular. During this time, I was encouraged by an art teacher to apply to Ryman Arts.

Ryman Arts was an incredible experience for me. I was not only given skills and fundamentals in fine arts, but I also learned from inspiring professors (some of whom I still keep in touch with today) on how to strengthen my voice as an artist and how to best prepare myself for higher education in the arts. It was a treat to be in an environment with peers that are just as invested and interested in developing themselves as artists. I learned from them just as much as from my professors in the program.

The A Reader Today, Leader Tomorrow mural, commissioned by Wise Readers to Leaders, is located in the library of Garden Grove Elementary School in Reseda. Its aim is to close the literacy achievement gap in low income communities by encouraging students to read.

When I was a student at Ryman Arts, classes were held on the USC campus every Saturday. Inspired by the campus, I applied to the art program at USC and was even able to advance in some classes because of the skills I acquired through Ryman Arts. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Art and Design at USC and a minor in Business Administration. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship at USC Marshall School of Business in hopes of using my love for art and design and the power of business to help solve the many challenges that underserved communities face today.

Compton Initiative commissioned as set of three murals that were created in collaboration with volunteers from the Compton community in spaces targeted by gang graffiti. Since the completion of the murals, the amount of graffiti has been reduced significantly.

As funding for arts education in middle schools and high schools continues to get smaller and smaller, for students like me who could not afford going to art classes, Ryman Arts is an amazing opportunity to receive arts education and join a community that encourages and fosters creative careers. Without this type of education, I believe that students miss out on developing critical thinking skills and creative problem solving skills that make them unique contributors and leaders at any table. 

Ryman Arts is a great program for young artists because it connects them to a community of talented creatives and is an opportunity for young artists to see that a career in the creative field is possible and worth pursuing. Thank you to Ryman Arts for your investment in the future of artists who are interested in pursuing their passion!