Photos and video courtesy of Dilan Garcia

A new mural in Long Beach by the street artist Teachr is a portrait of Dilan Garcia, a 21-year-old Dreamer and film student at Cal State Los Angeles.

Teachr’s friend Bandit had invited him to create a piece along with other street artists in support of “The Dreamers in Long Beach: a DACA Inspired Mural Collaboration”, curated by the nonprofit Street Artist in Residence in collaboration with the City of Long Beach.

Los Angeles and Long Beach artists, including past Pow! Wow! Long Beach participant Erick Guadarrama (@sparc_eg) and the prolific Goop Massta (@goopmassta), have contributed pieces to the tunnel, now an urban hallway of DACA-inspired murals located just off the beaten path of the Los Angeles River Trail underneath 6th Street in Long Beach.

Garcia, who was born in Honduras in 1996, raised in Compton and currently lives in Koreatown, filmed the progression of the mural and released the video on Monday.

“Living in uncertainty about something as being accepted and being able to continue to live in a place you’ve called home since before you could walk has personally been depressing,” Garcia said. “I envy people who don’t have to keep their legal status, ability to work legally and the fate of their family’s future in this country constantly running through their head. That stress, anxiety and depression really took its toll on me since Donald Trump was elected as president.”

Teachr said he chose this particular piece of the tunnel to paint because a previous DACA-inspired mural had been covered with graffiti and he wanted to “take the space back for the Dreamers.”

“I’m hoping people see the face of an actual Dreamer and see his hat that reads ‘Make America Kind’ and understand that these are real people who mean well and want to make America kind,” Teachr said.

The two met four years ago when Garcia reached out to the artist as a freshman in college. Having developed an interest in street art and photography at 15, at 17 Garcia wanted to know if he could make a video of Teachr and take some photos in his studio for fun.

“He trusted me enough to let me into his home and long story short, four years later, I have over 200 videos under my belt and see myself doing nothing else with my life but spotlighting others through my short films as I first did with Teachr,” Garcia said.

For now, Garcia is hopeful he’ll become a citizen in the near future, but fulfilling his mom’s dream of him graduating from college is what fuels his motivation.

“I chose Dilan because he is a dreamer and is better than most people I know and deserves to be here more than a lot of Americans,” Teachr said. “He’s a hard worker and very skilled with filming and editing.”

The young filmmaker has also completed work on fellow DACA recipients, including this 10-minute documentary on Los Angeles resident and cyclist Oscar Revilla. He hopes by publishing pieces like this he can give insight into what DACA is and how the termination of the program will affect so many lives.

“The finished piece by Teachr to me personally stands for more than just an installation to spotlight other Dreamers in Long Beach, Los Angeles, and this country, but as a reminder to myself that if I just stay focused and put in the work, I can use the cards I have had against me for so long […] in my favor to help and inspire others if I haven’t done so already, this mural and the message behind it being an example,” Garcia said.

Learn more about Garcia here, check out more of Teachr’s artwork here and read about The Dreamers in Long Beach project here.

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