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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hernández is bringing to light the health consequences of the farmworkers’ exposure to the herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides used in agricultural production.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Ian McConnell