Community Murals (Timothy Drescher)

Timothy W. Drescher has collaborated with Artstor to digitize and distribute over 5,000 images from his photographic archive of community murals from across the United States. Since these outdoor wall paintings are situated within living communities, exposed to the elements, many of the murals that Drescher photographed have been subsequently altered or destroyed. In some cases, Drescher's images provide unique visual documentation of an often ephemeral art form. Collected over the course of several decades, Drescher has shared his slides and photographs with artists, scholars, and photographers in the field, and many images have been reproduced in scholarly publications. According to Drescher: "I'm delighted that Artstor is making these important images available to a large group of students and scholars using the same usage criteria that muralists have used interpersonally for over three decades." Through his work, Drescher has also collected materials from the archives of other scholars and muralists. Most notable is the archive of the late Eva Sperling Cockcroft, co-author (with John Pitman Weber and James Cockcroft) of Towards a People's Art: The Contemporary Mural Movement (1977), as well as (with Holly Barnet-Sanchez) Signs from the Heart: California Chicano Murals (1990). Drescher contributed the Afterword update to the revised 1998 edition of Toward a People's Art. In curating a selection of images from his personal archive, as well as others that he has collected, Drescher has emphasized the documentation of entire murals, as well as details, contextual establishing photographs, and depictions of mural processes. Drescher has also provided cataloging information for each image in the collection. 

Timothy W. Drescher, Ph.D. is an independent scholar from Berkeley, CA who has been studying, documenting, and photographing community murals since 1972. He authored San Francisco Bay Area Murals: Communities Create Their Muses, 1904–1997 (3rd ed., 1998), as well as numerous articles about murals and community arts. Drescher has taught at San Francisco State University for over two decades, and served as co-editor of the magazine Community Murals from 1976–1987. He also consults and lectures widely on the subject, actively campaigning for the conservation of murals throughout the United States. Currently, Drescher is writing a history of 20th century community murals.