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 document, Guisela Latorre examines the emergence of a Chicana muralist program that developed in response to the unequal treatment of women within national Chicano political and artistic movements, which often regarded their participation as secondary to that of men, and excluded them from mural projects and ignored or objectified them in their iconographic programs. Latorre ponders the effects of ingrained attitudes toward muralism within the Chicano community, which viewed it as an inherently masculine art form, and the association of Indigenism, a key theme of numerous murals with male identity. The document looks at the efforts of Chicana artists to introduce an iconography that challenged the limitations of Chicano identity politics. Latorre begins by detailing the development of a male-centered indigenist iconography in order to establish a framework for a consideration of native motifs in the works of Chicana muralists, including Judy Baca (Los Angeles), Las Mujeres Muralistas (San Francisco), and Yreina Cervántez (Los Angeles). Latorre suggests that indigenist iconography provided a means for both Chicana and Chicano muralists to comment on and provoke awareness of cultural and gendered identity publicly and on a monumental scale.
Guisela Latorre is an art historian focusing primarily on Chicana art production and gendered artistic practices and iconography of U.S. Latino/a art. She is one of the few art historians to discuss muralism and its native imagery in relation to gender politics. In this essay, she not only chronicles the efforts of Chicana muralists to carve a place for themselves, but also the creation of a unique Chicana aesthetic that reclaimed and transformed Indigenism to reflect the experiences of women within the broader national movement. Published in 2003, her essay represents a pivotal example of the work of younger art historians who are reassessing and reevaluating the imagery of the Chicano (mainly male and nationalistic) Movement from a feminist perspective.