Chicanismo, the idea of what it means to be Chicano, was born in the 1970s, when grassroots activists, academics, and artists joined forces in the civil rights movimiento that spread new ideas about Mexican American history and identity. The community murals those artists painted in the barrios of East Los Angeles were a powerful part of that cultural vitality, and these artworks have been an important feature of LA culture ever since. This book offers detailed analyses of individual East LA murals, sets them in social context, and explains how they were produced. The authors, leading experts on mural art, use a distinctive methodology, analyzing the art from aesthetic, political, and cultural perspectives to show how murals and graffiti reflected and influenced the Chicano civil rights movement. This publication is made possible in part by a generous contribution from Furthermore, a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.
Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement is the first comprehensive consideration of Chicano art in almost two decades and the largest exhibition of cutting-edge Chicano art ever presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Traditionally described as work created by Americans of Mexican descent, Chicano art first emerged during the vibrant Chicano rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This catalog and exhibition explore the experimental tendencies within today's Chicano art, which is oriented less toward painting and polemical assertion and more toward conceptual art, performance, film, photography, and media-based art, as well as "stealthy" artistic interventions in urban spaces. Three essays by Rita Gonzalez, Howard N. Fox, and Chon A. Noriega explore the topic in depth. With more than two hundred color illustrations, twenty-five individual artist portfolios, and a wryly subversive chronology of significant moments in Chicano cultural history, Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement charts new territory and provides a conceptual sampling of Chicano art today.
In Alma Lopez's digital print Lupe & Sirena in Love (1999), two icons--the Virgin of Guadalupe and the mermaid Sirena, who often appears on Mexican lottery cards--embrace one another, symbolically claiming a place for same-sex desire within Mexican and Chicano/a religious and popular cultures. Ester Hernandez's 1976 etching Libertad/Liberty depicts a female artist chiseling away at the Statue of Liberty, freeing from within it a regal Mayan woman and, in the process, creating a culturally composite Lady Liberty descended from indigenous and mixed bloodlines. In her painting Coyolxauhqui Last Seen in East Oakland (1993), Irene Perez reimagines as whole the body of the Aztec warrior goddess dismembered in myth. These pieces are part of the dynamic body of work presented in this pioneering, lavishly illustrated study, the first book primarily focused on Chicana visual arts. Creating an invaluable archive, Laura E. Pérez examines the work of more than forty Chicana artists across a variety of media including painting, printmaking, sculpture, performance, photography, film and video, comics, sound recording, interactive CD-ROM, altars and other installation forms, and fiction, poetry, and plays. While key works from the 1960s and 1970s are discussed, most of the pieces considered were produced between 1985 and 2001. Providing a rich interpretive framework, Pérez describes how Chicana artists invoke a culturally hybrid spirituality to challenge racism, bigotry, patriarchy, and homophobia. They make use of, and often radically rework, pre-Columbian Mesoamerican and other non-Western notions of art and art-making, and they struggle to create liberating versions of familiar iconography such as the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Sacred Heart. Filled with representations of spirituality and allusions to non-Western visual and cultural traditions, the work of these Chicana artists is a vital contribution to a more inclusive canon of American arts.
Months before Alma Lopez's digital collage Our Lady was shown at the Museum of International Folk Art in 2001, the museum began receiving angry phone calls from community activists and Catholic leaders who demanded that the image not be displayed. Protest rallies, prayer vigils, and death threats ensued, but the provocative image of la Virgen de Guadalupe (hands on hips, clad only in roses, and exalted by a bare-breasted butterfly angel) remained on exhibition. Highlighting many of the pivotal questions that have haunted the art world since the NEA debacle of 1988, the contributors to Our Lady of Controversy present diverse perspectives, ranging from definitions of art to the artist's intention, feminism, queer theory, colonialism, and Chicano nationalism. Contributors include the exhibition curator, Tey Marianna Nunn; award-winning novelist and Chicana historian Emma Perez; and Deena Gonzalez (recognized as one of the fifty most important living women historians in America). Accompanied by a bonus DVD of Alma Lopez's I Love Lupe video that looks at the Chicana artistic tradition of reimagining la Virgen de Guadalupe, featuring a historic conversation between Yolanda Lopez, Ester Hernandez, and Alma Lopez, Our Lady of Controversy promises to ignite important new dialogues.
This is the first book solely dedicated to the history, development, and present-day flowering of Chicana and Chicano visual arts. It offers readers an opportunity to understand and appreciate Chicana/o art from its beginnings in the 1960s, its relationship to the Chicana/o Movement and its leading artists, themes, current directions, and cultural impacts. Although the word "Chicano" once held negative connotations, students--along with civil rights activists and artists--adopted it in the late 1960s in order to reimagine and redefine what it meant to be Mexican American in the United States. Chicanismo is the ideology and spirit behind the Chicano Movement and Chicanismo unites the artists whose work is revealed and celebrated in this book. Jackson's scope is wide. He includes paintings, prints, murals, altars, sculptures, and photographs--and, of course, the artists who created them. Beginning with key influences, he describes the importance of poster and mural art, focusing on the work of the Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada and the significance of Mexican and Cuban talleres (print workshops). He examines the importance of art collectives in the United States, as well as Chicano talleres and community art centers, for the growth of the Chicano art movement. In conclusion, he considers how Chicano art has been presented to the general American public. As Jackson shows, the visual arts have both reflected and created Chicano culture in the United States. For college students--and for all readers who want to learn more about this fascinating subject--his book is an ideal introduction to an art movement with a social conscience.
Mexican-American life, like that of nearly every contemporary community, has been extensively photographed. Yet there is surprisingly little scholarship on Chicano photography. Picturing the Barrio presents the first book-length examination on the topic. David William Foster analyzes the imagery of ten distinctive artists who offer a range of approaches to portraying Chicano life. The production of each artist is examined as an ideological interpretation of how Chicano experience is constructed and interpreted through the medium of photography, in sites ranging from the traditional barrio to large metropolitan societies. These photographers present artistic as well as documentary images of the socially invisible. They and their subjects grapple with definitions of identity, as well as ethnicity and gender. As such, this study deepens our understanding of the many interpretations of the "Chicano experience."
From its inception in the 1960s to its present form, contemporary Mexican American or Chicano art has developed as an art of identity, asserting the uniqueness of Chicanos and their dual Mexican and U.S. American cultural backgrounds. Because it emerged as a social phenomenon, however, many people outside the Chicano community have perceived Chicano art as merely protest art or social commentary, and Mexican American artists have been largely ignored in mainstream museums and absent in art history texts on American art. Yet more than ever before, Chicano art is diverse in medium, style, technique, and content--the cutting edge of a bold attempt to redefine and advance the American experience through new ideas of who we are as Americans and what American art is. Contemporary Chican@ Art is a general introduction and guide to one of the most exciting and meaningful expressions in contemporary American art. Intended for the casual reader as well as for art history scholars and students, the book provides an overview of work created from the 1960s to the present. George Vargas follows the dramatic evolution of Chicano art within the broader context of American cultural history. He shows that while identity politics was and still is a prevailing force in Chicano expression, Chicano art has undergone a remarkable transformation, shifting from a strict Chicano perspective to a more universal one, while still remaining a people's art. In the concluding chapter, Vargas takes an in-depth look at selected Chicano artists who share their thoughts about the Chicano artistic enterprise and their own work.
Art and Social Movements offers a comparative, cross-border analysis of the role of visual artists in three social movements from the late 1960s through the early 1990s: the 1968 student movement and related activist art collectives in Mexico City, a Zapotec indigenous struggle in Oaxaca, and the Chicano movement in California. Based on extensive archival research and interviews, Edward J. McCaughan explores how artists helped to shape the identities and visions of a generation of Mexican and Chicano activists by creating new visual discourses. McCaughan argues that the social power of activist artists emanates from their ability to provoke people to see, think, and act in innovative ways. Artists, he claims, help to create visual languages and spaces through which activists can imagine and perform new collective identities and forms of meaningful citizenship. The artists' work that he discusses remains vital today--in movements demanding fuller democratic rights and social justice for working people, women, ethnic communities, immigrants, and sexual minorities throughout Mexico and the United States. Integrating insights from scholarship on the cultural politics of representation with structural analyses of specific historical contexts, McCaughan expands our understanding of social movements.