Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

This brief document outlines the history of the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALAF). Written collectively by the member artists, it details the mission and goals of the group, linking its development as a critical mouthpiece of the contemporary Chicano movement to their predecessors during the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In the document, MALAF addresses the divide between the Chicano community and the mainstream, acknowledging the need for Chicano artists to promote their art and encourage community involvement independent of the museum and gallery system. The text includes details of an exhibition entitled New Symbols for La Raza Nueva, which featured works by the four founding members of MALAF.

Annotations

The Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALAF) was a seminal, artists collective comprised of Manuel Hernandez, Malaquias Montoya, Esteban Villa, and Rene Yañez that was active in Oakland, California, in 1968–69. The group lasted for a couple of years, but held many meetings that provided rich opportunities for discussion and debate regarding the philosophy and definition of Chicano art. Equally important, the collective was also the precursor to the Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco and the Rebel Chicano Art Front (RCAF/Royal Chicano Air Force) in Sacramento, California.

In 1969, two Chicano newspapers merged—La Hormiga (Oakland) and El Machete (San Jose)—to become Bronce where this essay was published. The article was published under the aegis of La Causa, the East Oakland community and cultural center sponsoring the MALAF exhibition. The article was collectively written, with input from the MALAF artists. The large front-page spread in the newspaper points to the relevance of community papers in both supporting and promoting Chicano art, especially in the first decade after 1965.

Researcher
Tere Romo
Team
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Credit
Courtesy of the private archives of Armando Valadez, Los Altos, CA, USA