Wednesday, March 30, 2016

¡Murales Rebeldes!: Contested Chicana/o Public Art

Barbara Carrasco, L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective (1981)
Today the J. Paul Getty Foundation announced that 43 museums and cultural institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego will be creating exhibitions focused on Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. The program—Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—will take place in the fall of next year, and we are very pleased to announce that we are participating in this collaboration of arts institutions in Southern California!

In partnership with LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a cultural center focused on the Mexican-American experience in Los Angeles and Southern California, CHS will present ¡Murales Rebeldes!: Contested Chicana/o Public Art. The exhibition will look at the way in which Chicana/o murals in the greater Los Angeles area have been contested, challenged, censored, and even destroyed.

Murals became an essential form of artist response and public voice during el movimiento/the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and particularly after the Chicano Moratorium’s formation in 1968 and the powerful march in East Los Angeles in 1970. .Murals were a means of expressing both pride and frustration at a time when other channels of communication were limited for the Mexican-American community.

The exhibition will explore murals by Barbara Carrasco, Roberto Chavez, Sergio O’Cadiz, among others. Through photography of the murals, sketches, related art works, and ephemera, the exhibition will tell the story of the mural from its genesis to its end.

Mexican-American artists developed imagery to communicate their struggles, assert their rights as citizens, and as author and co-curator Guisela Latorre writes in Walls of Empowerment, “aid in the formation of a Chicana/o nationalist identity.” While asserting cultural identity via this evolving visual vocabulary, artists also used murals as public platforms to protest against the injustices of institutionalized racism, including police brutality, educational inequality, inferior working conditions, and persisting colonial legacies.

It is difficult to underestimate the personal, political, and artistic significance of the creation of murals in the vast Los Angeles region, as LA has proven fertile ground for thousands of murals. Chicana/o murals have often been sites of controversy. The ways in which their creators provoke the dominant cultural norm and challenge the assumed historic narrative have often resulted in the desecration, whitewashing, or destruction of these works of art. Outright neglect and mistreatment of murals, as well as dismissal of their artistic and historical value, also threaten the survival of these works.

In this exhibition in the historic heart of Los Angeles, LA Plaza and CHS will examine the iconography, content, and artistic strategies of key Los Angeles area Chicana/o murals that have made others uncomfortable to the point of provoking a contrary response, delving into the murals’ complicated creation and subsequent disturbing history of censorship.

¡Murales Rebeldes!: Contested Chicana/o Public Art will open on September 4, 2017  and will be on view through January 29, 2018 at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes.

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!

Jessica Hough
Director of Exhibitions
jhough@calhist.org
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