The art of disruption

Chicana/o art’s politicized strategies for aesthetic innovation

Authored by: Guisela Latorre

Routledge Handbook of Chicana/o Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138847873
eBook ISBN: 9781315726366
Adobe ISBN:


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The Chicano movement and the political activism of the 1960s and 1970s provided a fertile ground and a powerful impetus for the emergence of a truly radical art. Though Chicanas/os had been active in creative endeavors prior to these watershed moments in American history, the numerous street protests, the demands for greater inclusion among people of color and the decolonial struggles against assimilation and domination generated new motivations for artists. Speaking about the specific location of Los Angeles (an important hub for Chicana/o artistic productions), Reina Alejandra Prado Saldívar argued that these artists had become highly sensitive to the events around them: “Art sprang up to address the needs of particular communities in Los Angeles, responding to the violence that erupted with the Watts rebellion and the Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War, among other events” (Saldívar 2011, p. 41). Moreover, they took stock of the conflictive and at times even violent relationship the United States has with Mexico, with whom they share the longest international border in the world. The generation of artists who came of age during this time understood that art has a consciousness-raising function that allows for the expression of collective sentiments and for the enactment of community building. Thus, the social, political and cultural context that gave rise to the greater visibility of Chicana/o art also prompted artistic innovations and a critical re-thinking of contemporary forms of creativity.

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