Arte de La Raza: Latino Art and Politics by Javier Cienfuegos
Marginalized communities often use art as a method for claiming space, exerting identity, and expressing political agendas in the face of hegemonic American society. In this piece, I seek to examine three online exhibits that all treat the cultural production of Latin@ people. I will analyze the varying tactics that these exhibits take in positing art as a form of political agitation or activism for Latin@ people. The three exhibits do this from three very distinct angles. The first exhibit, Our America: The Latino Presence in American Artis organized the most broadly. This exhibit is housed on the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and it takes post-1950 visual artwork of all media by Latino artists of all different Latin-American national origins and organizes it semi-chronologically around a few broad central stories or themes. The second exhibit, Hispanic Americans: Politics and Community (1970s-Present) is a joint project of the University of California Libaries and is housed on their joint Calisphere website. This project is not explicitly about art per se, but it features many political posters, collages, paintings, etc. that are representative of the deeply politicized Chicano art of the time period from 1970 onward in addition to photographs of iconic figures in the Chicano movement. The third and final exhibit that I’m looking at is entitled COME TOGETHER: Interethnic Collaborations for Equity and Social Change in the 1970s. It is a part of UC Santa Barbara’s ImaginArte series on Chican@ art, and it represents the online manifestation/documentation of a physical exhibition from the UC Santa Barbara University Art Museum which ran from February 8 to March 4, 2011 and featured various political posters about racial/ethnic solidarity movements that included Chican@ art in their advertising strategy; these posters were drawn from a variety of collections permanently housed at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives within the Department of Special Collections at UCSB’s Davidson Library. All of these sites were easily found through a string of short Google searches including the key words “Latino,” “digital exhibit” or “online exhibit” and other such variations.
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