The Chicano Art Movement

My project focused on the Chicano Art Movement, especially in the 1960s through the late 1970s. It focused on several different artists, including Malaquías Montoya and Rupert Garcia. Their works were mostly through silkscreening and poster making, but their stances on certain political and social problems happening in the time around the United States – Mexico border.

Montoya is most famous for his silkscreen titled “Undocumented.” It depicts a faceless person in what seems to be the motion of running, but he or she is stuck between barbed wire fences and bleeding. I think this piece represents the common phrase we know as “stuck between a rock and a hard place.” We know from prior knowledge that Mexico isn’t the wealthiest, safest, and/or friendliest place in the world, but crossing into the United States illegally isn’t that glamorous either, so I feel ‘Undocumented’ is about that decision of whether or not to abandon everything you know and cross to a place that is not guaranteed to exist for you. Because the person is faceless, I think the figure stuck in the barbed wire is the conscious of a person who is thinking about going ‘undocumented.’ Undocumented

Garcia’s piece is a poster called “El Grito del Rebelde,” which roughly translates to “The Cry of the Rebel.” The image shows a man tied up with some sort of cloth over his face, yet you can see he is clearly vocalizing something. Garcia has been quoted saying, “I want the viewer to be able to see my pictures with as little outside interference as possible.” I like this approach to a piece of art, especially as a statement against society, because when something is intricate and has lots different aspects to it, it can be interpreted in several different ways, and sometimes that interpretation isn’t what the author or artist intended. El Grito del Rebelde

I think many people have the idea that art is created to make something that may or may not already be beautiful, and use vivid lines and perfect color to make it beautiful. Art doesn’t have to be all for the beauty, however. In certain circumstances, and especially through the Chicano Movement at the United States-Mexico Border during the 1960s and 70s, Art was used as a political stance or form of mass communication. The internet wasn’t around back then; people couldn’t just log onto Facebook and create an event inviting all their friends to donate time or goods, plan a protest, or bring light to a terrible situation happening in our own backyard. Without light, colors don’t exist, and colors look best under the most amount of light. So to make things beautiful, we have to shine lights on the things that aren’t as beautiful yet to fix the imperfections. The border region of the United States and Mexico is like art; it needs more light and attention to fix the problems that we see with.

2 thoughts on “The Chicano Art Movement

  1. Brian Letourneau

    I really like your analysis of art and how many people see art as something that is appealing to the eye, but in reality it can be anything used to send a message to its viewers (The example you provided of art being used as a political stance or form of mass communication)

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  2. Hanah Leo

    The form of art is dependent on the person and their interpretation, in my opinion. People from the Caucasus and their art often took form of a practical tool, albeit with some adornments. Most people wouldn’t dare think of a wooden bowl as a significant piece of art, yet with the right decorations and context it could be easily taken as such. The situational awareness and the multiple complex factors that filters the decision someone makes on an item should be considered. There are plenty of tales of horror that are meant to teach tales to children on what should be avoided and while those cannot be seen as a traditional form of beauty, the syntax in which it is read in can suggest a kind of acceptance, much like in the Nart Epics that the Circassian people provide.

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