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In this document Tomás Ybarra-Frausto discusses the philosophical and sociological underpinnings of Chicano art. He links its development to the political goals of the Chicano movement, describing the work of Chicano artists as a model for freedom and a call for social change. He details the social context of the 1960s in order to underscore the connection between Chicano art and the public, also emphasizing the unique, hybrid nature of Chicano art as the product of both Mexican and Anglo-American cultures. The author highlights the importance of developing alternative visions and structures for the distribution and consumption of art, and lists several artist collectives that were integral in bringing Chicano art to the community, such as the Royal Chicano Air Force in Sacramento, California, and the Con Safo Group in San Antonio, Texas. Ybarra-Fausto discusses numerous other means by which developments in the arts came to stimulate a new Chicano national consciousness, and notes the continuing importance and advancement of Chicano visual cultures today.
Tomás Ybarra-Frausto is a scholar who has provided leadership in the area of Chicano art scholarship since the 1970s and who has influenced subsequent generations of scholars. This introductory essay was included in the exhibition catalog for the Chicano Expressions: A New View in American Art group exhibition at New York’s INTAR Latin American Gallery in 1986, which was organized by its director Inverna Lockpez. He was the curator of the Gráfica/Urban Iconography component; the other curators were Judith Baca (Murals/Public Art, see doc. No. 847448), Kay Turner (Altars), and Inverna Lockpez (Visual Artists). According to art historian Jacinto Quirarte, it was the first exhibition of Chicano art on the U.S. East Coast. Along with providing a brief historical account of the Chicano (sociopolitical) Movement and its close ties to the birth and evolution of Chicano art, Ybarra-Frausto’s essay also offers a valuable description of the early ideology of Chicano artists and their belief in art as a means toward achieving individual and community-wide societal transformation.