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 essay, art historian and curator Sybil Venegas discusses the social and economic conditions that led to the public emergence of Chicana artists in the 1970s. According to Venegas, by the 1970s Chicanas had developed both the economic means, as well as a new consciousness that defied traditional Mexican feminine roles. The existence of both of these conditions allowed Chicanas to not only adjust to the dominant Anglo-American society, but also to participate in the Chicano (male-centric) art movement. Like their Chicano contemporaries, Venegas notes that Chicana artists sought to assert their ethnicity and culture through their art within a racially discriminatory society.
This essay by Sybil Venegas was published together with another essay written by her, “The Artists and Their Work—The Role of the Chicana Artists” in a special issue of Chismearte titled “La Mujer” [Woman]. The journal was a quarterly publication of the Concilio de Arte Popular, a statewide coalition of Chicano cultural centers based in Los Angeles. Aside from situating the Chicana’s struggle in the U.S. in relationship to Mexican women’s subordinate role, it also credits the Chicana’s greater social mobility—as a result of increased education and art training opportunities—while facilitating their entry and success as artists. Venegas is one of, if not the first, art historian to historicize Chicana art. Moreover, as one of the few women of color in art history, she was in a unique position to dispel some of the prevalent gender stereotypes and put Chicana art within an equal scholarly framework.