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.
Tomás Ybarra-Frausto situates Santa Barraza’s work as part of a cultural reclamation project that accompanied the Chicano movement. According to Ybarra-Frausto, Barraza developed a visual vocabulary that explored mestizo identity in the Texas/Mexico borderlands, documenting the multi-layered and syncretic nature of cultural history, memory, and belief in this region. He also contextualizes Barraza’s work in relation to the emergence of Chicano art in Texas, with its emphasis on the visual articulation of hybridism and the establishment of alternative organizations and exhibition spaces. Considering her relation to the San Antonio artist collectives Con Safos and Los Quemados, Ybarra-Frausto identifies her as part of a cohort of women artists that during the mid-1970s began exploring the topic of the family experience and women’s contributions to history, while drawing inspiration from vernacular cultural traditions. He then considers multiple examples of Barraza’s contemporary interpretation of retablos (small devotional paintings on sheets of tin), a form through which the artist filters personal and collective experiences, combining Christian and indigenous symbols in a way that conveys the cultural mestizaje of the borderlands.
Tomás Ybarra-Frausto is an academic and cultural critic who has provided leadership in the area of Chicano art scholarship since the 1970s and who has influenced subsequent generations of disciples. In this essay, Ybarra-Frausto describes Barraza’s development against the larger backdrop of the national Chicano Movement as it unfolded in south Texas. He provides valuable information on the early exhibitions of Chicano art, artist collectives, and community art publications in Texas during the 1960s and early-‘70s. More importantly, Ybarra-Frausto accentuates Barraza’s key role in Chicana art and her seminal reclamation and reinterpretation of feminine cultural icons, such as the Virgin of Guadalupe and La Malinche, along with female deities from Mexico’s pre-Columbian pantheon, as objects of female empowerment.