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    Johnson, Katie
    Leaving Aztlan / Katie Johnson
    Leaving Aztlan. -- Santa Monica : ARENA 1/Santa Monica Art Studios, 2006
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Johnson, Kaytie. "Leaving Aztlan." In Leaving Aztlan, Exh. cat., Santa Monica: ARENA 1/Santa Monica Art Studios, 2006.
    Amado, Jesse, 1951-; Arismendi, Connie; Carmona, Javier; Donis, Alex, 1964-; Fernandez, Christina, 1965-; Frésquez, Carlos 1956-; Guerrero-Maciá, Diana; Huerta, Salomón, 1965-; Ortíz Torres, Rubén; Ramirez, Chuck, 1962-2010

In this essay, Kaytie Johnson introduces the premise of an exhibition that examines new trends in contemporary art by a new generation of Latino artists. Using strategies of appropriation, they confront assumptions about “Chicano/a” and “Latino/a” art and culture. The artists, she explains, both challenge essentialist ideas about Chicano and Latino culture but also reference them by utilizing hybridity as both a “formal and conceptual strategy.” This strategy helps them resist ethnic readings of their work, as well as debunk traditional notions of fine art. Johnson considers how this works in the photographs of Javier Carmona, in text-based works by Jesse Amado, in works of Rubén Ortiz Torres that mix high and low culture, and in Connie Arismendi’s installation, among other works. She concludes by asking the value of applying ethnic labels to artworks in this era of “post-identity.”


Kaytie Johnson, the director and curator of the University Galleries at DePaul University in Greencastle, Indiana, organized Leaving Aztlán: Rethinking Contemporary Latino and Chicano Art as a guest-curator for the Center for Visual Art at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Colorado. Johnson wrote the essay for the exhibition, which premiered in Denver in 2006 and traveled to DePaul University in 2007. This document addresses post-Chicano art, as questions on the state and direction of Chicano art arose at the end of the twentieth-century. When this exhibition was shown in Colorado, it caused a stir among an older generation of Chicanos. Professor George Rivera of the University of Colorado, in Boulder, rejected the central premise and responded by co-organizing in tandem with Patty Ortiz the exhibition Never Leaving Aztlán at the Museo de las Americas in Denver.

Olga Herrera; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Courtesy of Kaytie Johnson, Greencastle, IN