Editor’s note: This is part of a series of collaborations with Las Fotos Project, an Eastside-based organization that inspires teenage girls through photography, mentorship, and self-expression. 

‘Con Safos’ is a visual documentation project in which members of Las Fotos Project’s Digital Promotoras program use photojournalism and multimedia techniques to promote awareness of disparities and stigmas facing their communities. These stories address  key issues such as gentrification, access to green spaces, security, physical wellbeing, and punitive school measures.

See other stories and read about the Con Safos project here.

My project focuses on color within Los Angeles, especially within my communities of Westlake/MacArthur Park and East Los Angeles.

In my project my objective is to emphasize the importance of bright, vivid colors within communities and environments where low-income families reside. Color has a great impact on people’s sense of safety and comfort, especially in places where they spend a lot of time, like school.

Maritza Lopez

Maritza López is an AP Spanish Language & AP Spanish Literature teacher at Alliance Ted K. Tajima High School (just West of downtown LA). She has been teaching for eight years.
Ms. López attended Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN) & received her BA in Spanish language & Culture (2009), and her MA in multicultural & multilingual education (2013). She is currently working to get her master’s in Education Leadership & policy (2021) at CSU

In Mexican culture. much like where she and I come from, outstanding colors are often used in common objects to represent our culture.

Ms. López’s classroom is vivid and lively. No walls are left blank in this classroom — it’s full of life!

“I like students to feel like someone cares, that someone took the time to organize the classroom and strategically place things in the classroom”

Maritza López

Ms. Lopez incorporates color into her classroom because it makes her feel safe. When she was a student growing up in the LAUSD system, her classrooms were dull and lifeless. She always color-coded her notes to be organized and now implements similar strategies into her classroom to help students feel comfortable.

“Being a Spanish teacher, I feel like color is part of our culture & identity , we are very vibrant and full of life.”

Everything in Ms. Lopez’s classroom is significant, as someone special has gifted it to her. Her classroom is a space that makes her and her students feel comfortable and welcomed. The bright colors help students remain engaged and also remind me of my own culture, making me and others feel safe and at home.

“A classroom full of color is more lively and more active, as opposed to a black and white classroom.”

When she’s having a hard day, Ms. López likes to look at her room and the art pieces in it to remind herself of her students and the impact they have on her just like she has a great impact on them, including me.

Ms. López has implemented color into her classroom to try and create a positive outcome and to urge students to participate and remain engaged during class. She has influenced many students with the support she gives and she makes her classroom feel like a second home.

East Los Angeles

I have always felt safe seeing these colorful murals in Boyle Heights and East L.A. Seeing my culture represented by these vibrant colors make me and others feel like we belong, like we are present in this community even though this is not where I currently live.


Where I live, there is not much color or lively artwork in the streets. This painting has recently been added. Before, I didn’t see part of my culture being represented in my community. I think public art needs to be implemented to create a safer environment for those who reside here.

Butterflies represent freedom and movement, which is why immigrant communities often use butterflies to represent their culture. This lively piece right outside of the Consulado de México has had a great impact as it has improved community among people and given them a sense of comfort.


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Airin Valdez

Airin Valdez is part of the Digital Promotoras program at Las Fotos Project who participated in the fall 2019 "Con Safos" visual documentation project.

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