Mr. Black's Personal Story Project

SHG Activity Template

Personal Story Project,  Inspired by Barbara Carrasco
Activity designed by NHMLAC Teacher Advisory Councilmember E. Dominic Black, M.A. Ed



  • Blank mural template provided by Self-Help Graphics (DOWNLOAD HERE)

  • Drawing/writing utensils (can include markers, colored pencils, pastels, watercolors, etc.)

  • Paper or other support


Inspired by Barbara Carrasco’s mural, tell your story in a “cultural self-portrait.” You may use the template provided, and fill in areas within the hair, celebrating your own heritage, culture, identity...perhaps your connection to Los Angeles, or a place. What makes Los Angeles special to you? What makes you special to Los Angeles?

Related resources

View student examples below to get inspired!


ceres d. black gabrielino

Ceres D. B.

Sophia Cabalfin San Dimas HS

Sophia C.

Isabella Trejos San Dimas HS

Isabella T.

Chloe Jones

Chloe J.

Brooke Good

Brooke G.

1 of 1

Ceres D. B.

Sophia C.

Isabella T.

Chloe J.

Brooke G.


Chicana artist Barbara Carrasco’s landmark 1981 mural, L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective, portrays the city’s history through a series of vignettes woven into the flowing hair of la Reina de Los Ángeles (the queen of Los Angeles). The mural celebrates her Latina heritage and growing up in Los Angeles. NHM was the first museum to show the full length of the once-censored mural in a gallery setting, bringing visitors eye-level with the panoramic work across three walls of an intimate gallery in the exhibition, Sin Censura: A Mural Remembers L.A. Recently, the Natural History Museum purchased the mural and will soon be displaying it permanently. The new display will include reflections and drawings inspired by the mural.

In art, the self-portrait is often the image of an artist, drawn using a mirror or a photograph. But this is only one way to show who we are. How we identify ourselves celebrates our uniqueness among all the beings of earth. When we appreciate our own cultural journey, we are that much more likely to understand the paths of others. A portrait has the power to go beyond recreating a likeness to tell a much deeper story.

left side of sin censura mural

The left side of L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective, featuring La Reina de Los Ángeles

Barbara Carrasco’s mural, L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective, is a powerful reflection of a Chicana’s life in Los Angeles, and all the history and culture that come with that. In her eighty foot mural, many scenes from our history are woven into the hair of the woman in profile. In telling a story of Los Angeles, Carrasco retells her own story; for what we choose to include, even in a history, reflects our journey as well. The Museum has many items in its collection that tell stories, reflecting the people who made them in their materials, color, construction, and design…all the same choices we make as artists considering a new work.

When you reflect on your journey, ask yourself: “How do I want to be seen by others?” “What is important to me about my life, my city, my culture, my relationships?” When you create your personal story, try to imagine an overall “arc” or theme to the stories and moments you consider…like the flowing hair in Carrasco’s mural, your ideas will come together in a form that will seem just right for you.