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, David R. Maciel explores the influence of Mexican visual production on Chicano art and the renewed concern of Chicano artists for Mexican history and cultural identity. Maciel begins by discussing the history of the link between Mexico and the Chicano community, detailing the events and conditions that characterized their relationship and interactions. He examines the connection of Mexican art to an emerging Chicano aesthetic, highlighting the influence of the Mexican School of Painting on Chicano murals, posters, and other media. Additionally, he acknowledges the critical impact of the works of José Guadalupe Posada, Frida Kahlo, and other Mexican artists on Chicano art. Maciel links the Mexican mural movement to Chicano muralism on the basis of a shared ideological foundation and parallel aesthetic programs, and highlights the influence of urban graphics collectives in Mexico, such as the Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP), on Chicano poster production. Furthermore, he goes on to consider the evolution of Chicano art in the 1970s and 80s, during which time the works of Chicano artists were especially influential on some examples of Mexican visual production. He discusses the appearance of neomexicanismo in Mexico in the 1980s, which emphasized the artistic value of popular culture and was particularly influenced by the vision of Chicano cultural identity articulated in the film Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez.
David R. Maciel is a historian and former chair of Ethnic Studies and Chicano/a Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He wrote this essay to be included in the catalog of the seminal exhibition Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA) that traveled nationally between 1990 and 1993. CARA was the first major exhibition to position Chicano art within a historical and aesthetic framework, utilizing a curatorial team comprised of a committee and incorporating strong pedagogical components. Maciel’s essay not only outlines the numerous influences on Chicano art from Mexican sources—including muralism and popular arts—but also the influences of Chicano art on Mexican artists, which makes it a significant contribution to an overlooked, yet important area of art historical research.