artivism From and in Texas Hispanic Heritage Month (2021)

Hispanic Heritage Month

art + activism = Artivism

Artivists from and in Texas

Santa barraza

Santa Barraza (1951) is an American mixed-media artist and painter who is well known for her colorful, retablo style painting. A Chicana, Barraza pulls inspiration from her own mestiza ancestry and from pre-Columbian art. She is considered an important artist in the Chicano art movement.

Barraza was born in Kingsville, Texas. Growing up, she was exposed to many indigenous, South Texan, Chicano cultural traditions. Her aunt on her father's side was a curandera, and Barraza would accompany her when she trained in Mexico. These visits and watching the rituals her aunt performed became part of her later work. Her parents were Catholic, and the imagery of this religion also influenced much of the iconography of her work.

Barraza briefly attended Texas Arts and Industry University, (now Texas A&M University, Kingsville), enrolling in 1969. It was during this time that she learned about Mexican and pre-Columbian art and was exposed to the growing Chicano Movement. In 1969, Barraza became involved with the activist group, Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO).

In 1971, Barraza transferred to the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in order to pursue studio arts and because it was important to her to receive a BFA rather than a BA.

While she was at UT, Barraza faced a sense of displacement. She recalls that she would walk around campus for "months and never see another brown face." At UT, she studied with Jacinto Quirarte, who was the only Latinx faculty member at the time. Quirarte was considered an important historiographer of Chicano art, and Barraza's association with him was a big influence on her work. In his class, Barraza was introduced to his important work on Chicano art history and Latinx art. Barraza recalls that while she was at UT, she knew she wanted to be an artist and make a difference. She chose to do this by painting the images she felt were missing from her textbooks: Chicana imagery.

Barraza feels that her creativity comes from emotion and that this emotion comes from her family and physical ties to Texas. She has traced her personal heritage back to the 1700s, and she has discovered that she has Native American (Karankawan) roots. Barraza feels that her ancestors had a sense of determination that was passed down to her.

Barraza's art often incorporates motifs from folk art to express a sense of spirituality. The artist has been influenced by Mexican-American experiences and Mayan and Aztec artistic themes, such as codices. Blending Christian and pre-Columbian symbolism is part of the way in which she reshapes the traditional narrative of history. Barraza uses a variety of media, materials, and techniques to create her work. [Text adapted from the original on Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA.]

Visit the artist's website to learn more about her, and to explore her works:

[Image source: http://bit.ly/SantaBarrazaCallerTimes]

Santa Barraza Talks About "Nepantla"

Barbara carrasco

Barbara Carrasco (1955) is a Chicana artist and activist who lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work critiques dominant cultural stereotypes involving socioeconomics, race, gender, and sexuality. Carrasco is as equally comfortable as an artist in creating large-scale works, like murals, as she is with detailed, small-scale pen and ink work. Her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Carrasco was born in El Paso, Texas to Mexican-American parents. When she was around a year or so of age, her family moved to Los Angeles. Carrasco received her BFA in art from UCLA in 1978. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. At UCLA, she was the first woman editor of the campus Chicano newspaper La Gente.

In the 1981, Carrasco was commissioned to create the mural The History of Los Angeles: A Mexican Perspective by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Carrasco wanted the public to view LA history from the perspective of minoritized groups. The CRA approved the sketches of the mural, but when she began the process of painting it, she was told to remove 14 images that showed incidents of discrimination, and included references to slavery, the internment camps during World War II, and the zoot suit riots.

Carrasco refused to comply with CRA's request, and the project was canceled. The mural was then put in a storage room for nearly a decade. There were fifty-one separate events related to discrimination and racism depicted in this work. In 2019, Carrasco's work came back to life in the temporary exhibit Sin Censura: A Mural Remembers LA at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The mural was also featured in another exhibit, Murales Rebeldes, in Los Angeles. The mural will now be permanently exhibited in the new building of the Natural History Museum, the NHM Commons, when its construction is finalized.

Carrasco has been publicly acknowledged for her role in making the Chicano art movement aware of sexist attitudes. She was also an activist working closely with César Chávez and the United Farm Workers between 1976 and 1991. For example, she created flyers and banners for conventions, rallies, and supermarket demonstrations. The last work she did for the organization was Cesar Chavez’s funeral banner.

By protesting within her artwork, Carrasco has educated people about systemic racism and sexism towards people of color. One of her famous works connected to her involvement with the United Farm Workers is Dolores, which pays homage to Dolores Huerta (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxKnF-YzT4c [en español]; versión en inglés: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSPztcEBiX8), the co-founder of the organization. At present, Carrasco is an executive board member in the Dolores Huerta Foundation. [Text adapted from the original on Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA.]

[Image source: http://bit.ly/BarbaraCarrascoHammer]

Barbara Carrasco and César Chávez

Explore the mural "The History of Los Angeles: A Mexican Perspective"

Juan de dios mora

Artist Juan de Dios Mora was born in Mexico, but emigrated to Laredo, Texas, when he was 14 years old. He studied at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he got his got a BFA and Master's degree with a specialization in printmaking. Mora's art focuses on issues and experiences connected to the Mexican American communities living along the Texas-Mexico border, such those related to immigration and community and family life.

Mora has exhibited his work internationally, and recently, he was part of the exhibit ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now at the The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Mora teaches art at the University of Texas at San Antonio. [Source: https://laprensatexas.com/juan-de-dios-mora/]

[Image source: http://bit.ly/JuandeDiosMoraMcNay]

Juan de Dios Mora's Art

Juan de Dios Mora, El Animo es Primero (Encouragement Is First), 2018, linocut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Frank K. Ribelin Endowment, 2019.35.4, ©2019, Juan de Dios Mora. https://s.si.edu/3k7CVvF
celeste de luna

Celeste De Luna is an artist from South Texas. She specializes in printmaking, and through her art, she examines issues that affect the Latinx communities living in the border between Texas and Mexico. For example, her pieces explore "the border experiences of mixed documentation status communities [and her] iconography frequently shows razor wire, fences, bridges, and 'anchor babies'." One of her most well-known works is Our Lady of the Checkpoint. In this video, De Luna talks about this work and the experiences and ideology behind it. [Source: https://www.mantecahtx.com/profiles/celeste-de-luna.html)

To learn more about De Luna and her work, visit her website:

[Image source: https://bit.ly/3C9y17w]

De Luna's Art in Her Own Words

De Luna's "Nepantla Lotería"

Photo by Gabriela C. Zapata. Private collection.
Michael Menchaca

Michael Menchaca (1985) is an interdisciplinary artist from San Antonio, Texas. They have a BFA from Texas State University, and a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. On their website, Menchaca describes their art as integrating "a personalized lexicon of animal archetypes and narrative pattern designs to assist in mythologizing the interwoven histories of European colonization, U.S. slavery/mass incarceration, and the increasing deployment of surveillance technologies that maximize settler-colonial capacities of racial and social control." Menchaca's works combine images from "Mesoamerican Codices, European Bestiaries, and Japanese Video Games with the seductive, attention-seeking interfaces of Big Data Technologies." The artist's work was featured in the the exhibit ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now at the The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, and it has been shown in numerous venues throughout the United States. Menchaca received the Latinx Artist Fellowship in 2021. (Source: https://michaelmenchaca.com/page/1-STATEMENT-BIO.html)

Michael Menchaca talks about their art, experiences, and influences:

Learn more about Menchaca and their works on their website:

[Image source: https://bit.ly/2YNcYcq]

Michael Menchaca's "El Coyote"

Michael Menchaca, El Coyote, 2010, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Drs. Harriett and Ricardo Romo, 2019.50.29, © MMXX, Michael Menchaca. https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/el-coyote-116484

Michael Menchaca's Multimodal Work "A Cage Without Borders"


More on the Hispanic/Latinx community in TEXAS

¡Printing the revolution!

From May 14, 2021 to August 8 of the same year, the Smithsonian American Art Museum hosted the exhibit ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now, which highlighted Latinx artivists. The following video provides information about the exhibit:

You can also learn more about it on this website:

And you can visit it virtually:

This page was designed and created by Dr. Gabriela C. Zapata, Professor at Texas A&M University. This site and the activities for L2/HL learners are licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. However, the material linked or embedded in it is copyrighted, and it should be used in accordance to the authors' stipulations.

Created By
Gabriela C. Zapata


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