Michigan State University


Chicano Poster Art

Chicano Poster Art: A Graphic Account of the Chicana/o Movement

Location: Main Library, basement level, Special Collections Reading Room and 1st floor West wing
Dates: October 3rd through December 27, 2013

The Chicano Art Movement has been a partner in civil resistance efforts such as marches, boycotts, sit-ins and other forms of protest since the mid-1960s. In conscious efforts of self-determination, Chicanas and Chicanos (Mexican Americans) chose to represent their identity, culture and politics employing various forms of art, in particular poster art.

Pre-1970 images of the Chicana/o as the peon, the bandito, the sultry Chicana and domestic worker by mainstream art and media outlets were contested and replaced. Artists such as Malaquías Montoya, Ricardo Favela, Barbara Carrasco, Jose Montoya, Ester Hernández, and Alma López draw from their cultural, political and social sensibilities in determination to self-represent. Imageries of the United Farm Workers (UFW) labor union boycotts, civil rights issues, education and third party politics and life in the barrio were introduced. Art became [and becomes] the vehicle to articulate identity, ideologies, politics and social and cultural issues. Their artistic production soon spilled into the realms of women’s rights, GLBT issues and hemispheric concerns of immigration and US government and corporate imperialism in Latin America.

Cesar E. Chavez and the UFW, the Vietnam War, La Raza Unida, student activism (MEChA and MAYO), the adherence to iconic symbols as the Virgin of Guadalupe and those found in pre-Columbian societies were common leitmotifs in poster, public art spaces and other art forms.

Special Collections (Ground East), the Cesar E. Chavez Collection and First Floor Center wing of the MSU Library are currently exhibiting illustrations of contemporary art as well as the forerunners of Chicana and Chicano poster art. Poster art in the Chavez Collection case highlights the work of Chicana/o illustrators & others from the Justseeds Artist Cooperative. These handmade prints thematically focus on immigration in the US. The exhibits run from October 3 –December 27, 2013.

Diana Rivera - Chicana/o Latina/o Studies Librarian at MSU Libraries

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