Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this text, John Weber speaks about his experiences and beliefs as a political artist, and summarizes the Chicago mural movement in which he participated. First, the author gives a brief overview of Chicago mural history from the 1930s Works Progress Administration to the 1960s. During the 1960s, he explains, Chicago’s preeminent African-American muralist William Walker realized that he could best present his art to black people by presenting it to all people in the form of public art. Weber notes the arrival of white and Latino artists on the mural scene. He also laments the lack of contact between the fine arts and the poor, and that minority groups are systematically excluded from the creation and enjoyment of art. He argues that murals, in contrast, return art to the people as a means of communication and celebration. Weber explains that murals must be relevant to the community since those residents will ultimately support and protect the murals as their own. In Chicago and other cities, he says, wall paintings try to relate to people, to clarify ideas, and to visually express the concerns of the community where they are located.

Annotations

Published in the journal Liberation in 1971, this text by Chicago-based artist and activist John Weber outlines the history and development, as well as the philosophical and political beliefs, of the Chicago mural movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The article contextualizes the creation of murals in Chicano and Puerto Rican communities of Chicago in relationship to efforts among black artists and activists in Chicago during the late 1960s to utilize murals to raise political awareness and make art accessible to broader audiences. This document addresses the topics Issues of Race, Class, and Gender in the Visual Arts of Latino-America and Art, Activism, and Social Change because it notes the race- and class-based exclusionary measures at work in the art world. It points out a sound way of combating the racism and classism that foster such exclusions.
This document mentions the conception of the Humboldt Park murals that are the focus of other texts. In this regard, see docs. no. 857153, 1061333, and 840855.

Researcher
Victor Alejandro Sorell, Gabrielle Toth; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Team
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Credit
Courtesy of John Pitman Weber and James Cockcroft, Chicago, IL