Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


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This essay, with accompanying inventory and maps, considers the Chicago community mural scene from 1967 through 1979, noting that the medium was employed by artists from a variety of ethnic backgrounds to “ . . . express ethnic, historical, popular, political, and social messages,” as well as depict “art for art’s sake” imagery. Victor A. Sorell notes that Chicago murals are not limited to indoor or outdoor walls, but also appear on buses, trucks, and vans, which may speak to a coast-to-coast audience through their routes. Sorell considers a number of Chicago murals and muralists individually underscoring important movements and themes represented in the works, and discusses William Walker, the Puerto Rican Art Association, Chicano artist Raymond Patlán, as well as other artists and collectives, at length. This essay is accompanied by an important inventory of contemporary murals in Chicago.


This essay by the Chicago-based activist and art historian Victor Alejandro Sorell appeared in Guide to Chicago Murals: Yesterday and Today, published by the Chicago Council on Fine Arts in 1979. Edited by Sorell, this book also includes an essay on murals created under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s and photographs documenting murals, as well as detailed maps and checklists of murals completed during the 1930s and the 1970s. Sorell’s essay analyzes the thematic and stylistic content of murals created in Chicago between 1967 and 1979 and addresses several research topics. Issues of Race, Class, and Gender in the Visual Arts of Latino-America is addressed because the essay documents mural production in Chicago, where Latinos—particularly Chicanos and Puerto Ricans—used public art to empower themselves, advance their aspirations for a more egalitarian society, and to ensure their art had a broad audience.

Victor Alejandro Sorell, Gabrielle Toth; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Courtesy of Victor Sorell, Chicago, IL