Chicano Art


Traditionally defined as artwork created by Americans of Mexican descent, Chicano art is heavily influenced by the Chicano Movement in the United States (also known as El Movimiento, part of the countercultural revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s). Artists working under this moniker sought to establish a collective identity—one that was affirmative and self-determined and resisted racial stereotypes. Many of these artists also drew inspiration from Mexican muralism and pre-Columbian art. In 1990, an important traveling exhibition of Chicano artists, “Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation,” opened at Wight Gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles. As stated by the exhibition’s advisory committee: “Chicano art is the modern, ongoing expression of the long-term cultural, economic, and political struggle of the Mexicano people within the United States. It is an affirmation of the complex identity and vitality of the Chicano People. Chicano art arises from and is shaped by our experiences in the Americas.” Central to the movement is the concept of “rasquachismo” (from rasquache, Spanish for poor), which refers to an attitude of resourcefulness and “making do,” which may refer to using commonly available materials, drawing on communities, or even sampling from other art movements or postmodern theories.

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