Local News Northeast Edition

Street artist returns to old haunts at East L.A. library

BOYLE HEIGHTS — Gajin Fujita, an internationally acclaimed artist influenced by East L.A. graffiti, returned to his childhood library — R.L. Stevenson Branch — July 12 to teach local teens street art.

“This is the library I frequented as a kid 40 years ago,” said Fujita, an East L.A. native. “I feel like I’ve come full circle sharing my passion for art with students, and hopefully enlightening and empowering them.” 

Fujita merges iconic Japanese imagery and Latino graffiti art in a striking style that captures the vibrant, urban landscape of Los Angeles. 

During the art workshop, Fujita shared his personal and professional story with ninth graders from the nearby Oscar De La Hoya Ánimo Charter High School.

“It’s a special feeling to connect with teens in my old neighborhood,” said Fujita, who designed L.A.’s limited-edition library card, which is available while supplies last at all 73 locations of the Los Angeles Public Library. “It’s tough growing up with limited resources. Things don’t just happen instantly. It takes conviction. If you have heart, things will follow. Hopefully the kids will take that away from today’s art workshop.” 

Fujita also taught the students his style of street art and guided them in creating their own art using spray paint and chiseled markers on art boards.

“We are excited that Gajin came back here to his childhood library to talk to teens about how growing up in Boyle Heights and hanging out here at the R.L. Stevenson Branch changed his life,” said Lupie Leyva, the branch senior librarian.

Fujita established himself on the streets of Los Angeles with graffiti crews KGB and K2S, but his earliest artistic influences were informed by his father, who was a painter, and his mother, a conservator of Japanese antiquities. 

As a second-generation Japanese American, Fujita found himself drawn to the Japanese folkloric heroes and legends that he came to know through his parents, who immigrated to Los Angeles from Japan.  

He attended Otis College of Art and Design where he received a bachelor’s of fine arts degree. He received a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Fujita’s works are in institutions worldwide including the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. 

Wave Staff Report