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This heavily illustrated exhibition catalogue documents sixty-eight artworks—drawings, paintings, prints, and mixed-media pieces—by twenty-two Latina artists identified by ethnicity and/or nationality. Curator Juana Guzmán admits in her brief introduction that her selection of artists for this landmark show was predicated on personal choices. In her introduction, she emphasizes the challenges faced by Latinas in gaining recognition of their work, as well as the fluency with which they have reinvented iconography. In an abbreviated, but descriptive, manner, she discusses thematic and formal aspects of a selected number of works, augmenting the commentary with concise biographical paragraphs devoted to each artist. Catalogue entries for each work on display, a list of exhibiting artists (with their then-current address and ethnicity and/or nationality), and an acknowledgements page complete the documentary coverage.


This catalogue documents the exhibition, Latina Art: Showcase ’87, which was mounted at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago in 1987 and included sixty-eight prints, drawings, and paintings by Latina artists living and working in the United States. Artists in the exhibition included the Chicago-based Bibiana Suarez, as well artists from the West Coast, including Ester Hernandez and Santa Barraza. The exhibition speaks to three of ICAA’s Documents Project’s research topics: “Issues of Race, Class, and Gender in the Visual Arts of Latino-America”; “Art, Activism, and Social Change”; and “Exile, Displacement, Diaspora.” 

It is interesting to note that in a number of instances, the denotations of Chicana and Mexican identity appear interchangeable for both the curator and certain artists; also of note is that one artist is characterized as Mexican-American, rather than Chicana. The catalogue includes a statement about the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum’s evolving cultural mission.

Victor Sorell; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago, IL