November 8, 2008

Chicana Art and Experience

I am working on a new curatorial project for the AFL-CIO -- organizing an exhibition of women artists whose art reflects the interests and concerns of Chicana workers. The show, which includes more than 30 prints, paintings, photographs and posters, opens at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC on November 19, 2008 and continues until May 31, 2009.

My first major exposure to Chicana/o art was in 1992 when I reviewed the landmark Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation (CARA) exhibition at what is now called the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The show was viewed then as highly controversial and panned by the Washington Post's Paul Richard (as too political). I wrote a lengthy response to Richard's review in the Washington City paper defending the show. The work in the AFL-CIO show reprises some of the artists who were represented in CARA, but adds newer voices as well. If you're in town, contact me and I'll walk you through the show. I think it's a bold move for the labor federation, which is deploying its exhibition program to include politically aggressive art and to emphasize the diversity and pluralism that is a reality both in the art world and the world of work at large. The artists include : Barbara Carrasco, Ester Hernández, Cecilia Concepción Alvarez, Laura Álvarez, Favianna Rodíguez, Yreina Cervántez, Juana Alicia, Irene Simmons, Delilah Montoya, Laura Molina, Tina Hernández, Yolanda López, Carmen Lomas Garza, and Kathy Vargas. I want to thank each of them for participating and underscore what a pleasure it has been to be in touch in connection with this show. You can see more images at the AFL-CIO's website:

The images reproduced , clockwise from the upper left are ¡Ya Basta! by Tina Hernández; We Are Not the Enemy by Favianna Rodriguez; Cihualyaomiquiz, The Jaguar by Laura Molina; Humane Borders (from the series, Trail of Thirst) by Delilah Montoya; and Sun Raid by Ester Hernández.