The prints and paintings in this exhibition assert Latinx identity as specific, powerful, and ancient in origin. The artists declare their pride in who they are, a people descendant from ancient indigenous civilizations, connected to their land, nurturers of their children, but also creators of iconic images serving as potent standard bearers to any outsider. Bold colors and graphics are unapologetic, as they celebrate familial customs, legends, and rituals. Revered historical figures, such as Frida Khalo or César Chavez, are offered as equal to any other cultural or political hero. The abstract patterns of ancient civilizations persist, as do the modern forms of Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, as a testament to the preeminence of heritage within this world. Yet the personal struggles of Latinx peoples caused by migration and immigration, abuse of foreign powers, poverty and violence, are part of that identity, and are not overshadowed.
The artists included in the exhibition are largely based in Los Angeles or Texas. Among the nationally known are Carlos Almaraz, Patssi Valdez, Cesar Martinez, and Kathy Vargas. Carlos Almaraz, who is best known for his brightly colored scenes of urban life and Chicano heritage created artwork in support of Cesar Chavez’s farm worker’s movement. He founded the art collective Los Four with Frank Romero, whose art is also shown in the exhibition. Sonia Romero, Frank Romero’s daughter and a significant artist on her own is also represented in the exhibition. Another artist, Patssi Valdez is one of the most significant Latina artists out of Los Angeles, producing works that challenge gender stereotypes. She is founder of ASCO, (“disgusting” in Spanish), a collective of avant-garde artists creating installations, performances, paintings and prints. Texas artist Cesar Martinez is known for his monumental portraits of ordinary men and women, (batos, pachucos and cholas) principally from Laredo and San Antonio. Kathy Vargas, from San Antonio, creates hand-colored photographs, often produced in series, which explore Mexican and Pre-Columbian myths. There are forty six artists represented in all, from established international names to emerging artists including works by Joan Mitchell Foundation grantees Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Vincent Valdez, Ana Fernandez, NALAC grantees Rolando Briseños and Michael Menchaca, to name a few.
The art in the exhibition originates from the collection of Drs. Harriett and Ricardo Romo of San Antonio, Texas, longtime collectors of Latinx art and who, coincidentally, maintain a longtime friendship with UHD President Dr. Juan Muñoz. The exhibit features prints from Modern Multiples, Self Help Graphics, and Coronado Studios. Richard Duardo, owner and Master Printmaker at Modern Multiples had been a student of Dr. Ricardo Romo in California. Duardo was inspired by the Franciscan nun, Karen Baccalero, who, with a group of Los Angeles printmakers, formed Self Help Graphics in 1973. It became a hub for the rising Chicano cultural and political movement. Under its current director, Betty Avila, Self Help Graphics is dedicated to the production, interpretation and distribution of prints and other art media by Chicana/o and Latinx artists. Sam Coronado of Coronado Studios in Austin, Texas, was a co-founder of Mexic-Arte Museum, the state’s official Mexican and Mexican-American art museum. He also founded the Serie Project, a non-profit organization with a mission to create and promote serigraph prints created by Latinx artists and others in a workshop environment.