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Chicano Art

Chicano Art

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Identify influences of the Chicano art movement.

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what's covered
This lesson is about Chicano art. The Chicano art movement was influenced by the civil rights movement, American Indian movement, and the Chicano political movement. By the end of the lesson today, you’ll be able to identify and define today’s key terms, describe the influences on the development of the Chicano art movement, and identify examples of Chicano art. You will cover:
  1. “Chicano Park”
  2. “Great Wall of L.A.”
  3. “Sun Mad Raisins”

You’ll be looking at art today from between 1960 and 1982. File:1344-time2.png

1. “Chicano Park”

The development of the Chicano art movement was inspired by the civil rights movement, American Indian movement, and the Chicano political movement of the 1960s. The civil rights movement was one of the most important events of the 20th century because it opened the door for many other groups to reconsider their role in American society.

term to know

Mexican Americans, United States citizens of Mexican descent
Like other minority movements, the Chicano movement of the 1970s involved the struggle for Mexican Americans to be treated fairly and equally. In a similar fashion to American Indians, Mexican Americans had historically been subjected to segregation, had their land taken away, and experienced many other forms of injustice.

In terms of art, Mexican muralist artists such as Diego Rivera were important influences on the revival of muralism in Hispanic cultures and urban environments. The mural served as the perfect tool to tell the story of Mexican Americans and publicly portray aspects of their culture that were important to them. “Chicano Park,” pictured below, in San Diego is an example of reclamation of land for the Mexican American community.

Chicano ParkBegun 1970San Diego, California
Chicano Park
Begun 1970
San Diego, California

Although it’s in a highly urban area beneath the busy highways and interstates of the San Diego metropolitan area, it was and remains an area of immense pride for Mexican Americans.

This is an example of the rural movement that began in California in the late 1960s with the work of Antonio Bernal’s Del Rey mural, one of the first examples of a mural in California. His work was closely associated with farmworkers and making a connection between the Chicano movement and the civil rights movement.

2. “Great Wall of L.A.”

“Chicano Park” served as inspiration for later mural projects that involved local artists beautifying their neighborhoods and creating a form of art that was relevant to the community. One such example is the “Great Wall of L.A.”

Great Wall of L.A. by Judith BacaAfter 1975Mural
Great Wall of L.A. by Judith Baca
After 1975

Judith Baca was one of the first female muralists. Her project, the “Great Wall of L.A.,” is one of the most amazing artistic collaborations of the modern era, as it has spanned almost 40 years, several generations, and several thousand feet.

did you know
The idea began in 1974, when the Army Corps of Engineers approached Baca about a beautification project in a flood control channel. The surface was ideal because it was an uninterrupted stretch of blank concrete that went on for miles.

What resulted over several decades was the gradual expansion of the longest mural in the world. It celebrates Hispanic culture and its integration within the American community. Its visual impact is perhaps only overshadowed by the social impact, as the beautification project has introduced art to and improved the lives of countless youths.

3. “Sun Mad Raisins”

The Chicano art movement developed in conjunction with the Chicano political movement. It expressed support for the Chicano political movement’s offspring, the United Farm Workers Union, co-founded by César Chávez.

César Chávez
César Chávez

The Chicano art movement showed this support for the political movement’s demonstrations through works of art or posters that advertised important events.

Chicano artwork also came in the form of strong public statements about the working conditions for farmworkers. Ester Hernández’s “Sun Mad Raisins” is a parody of the easily-recognized box design for Sun Maid Raisins.

Sun Mad Raisins by Ester Hernández1982Screen print
Sun Mad Raisins by Ester Hernández
Screen print

Hernández is bringing to light the health consequences of the farmworkers’ exposure to the herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides used in agricultural production.

big idea
The Chicano art movement was influenced by the civil rights movement, the American Indian movement, and the Chicano political movement.

Now that you’ve seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today’s key terms? Can you describe the influences on the development of the Chicano art movement? Can you identify examples of Chicano art? You looked at three important examples today: “Chicano Park”, the “Great Wall of L.A.”, and “Sun Mad Raisins”.

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Ian McConnell

Terms to Know

Aztlán The traditional home of the Nahua, an important group of Mesoamericans.


Mexican-Americans, United States citizens of Mexican descent.


A negative term to define low class or style. Also used in the Chicano arts movement as a reference to “making the most with the least.”