The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this brief essay, Gilberto Sánchez Luján addresses the conditions that have led to a difficult understanding of Chicano art on the part of the general public. The author identifies two primary issues that have impeded the development of Chicano art. First, he argues that Chicano identity has been eroded by the influence of United States institutions, such as schools. Second, he acknowledges a lack of cultural pride of many Chicanos that has led to certain artists’ reluctance to make personal or universal statements that reflect their heritage and experiences. Sánchez Luján argues for the universality of Chicano art and challenges the public, including Chicanos and others, to reevaluate the traditionally narrow view of its economic worth and artistic relevance.
Gilberto Sánchez Luján (b. 1940) was one of the founding members of the seminal Chicano art collective known as Los Four. Based in Los Angeles, other group members were Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero and Beto de la Rocha. A key element in the collective, Sánchez Luján’s essay encapsulates many of his ideas that came to characterize Los Four; the universality of Chicano art, the intrinsic value of incorporating aspects of barrio (neighborhood) life within Chicano art, and the need for an expanded definition of Chicano art, among others. Sánchez Luján was also a board member of Con Safos magazine, a Chicano literary, cultural, and activist publication, contributing essays—such as this one—and artwork.