Chicano Murals in Los Angeles
Murals are the quintessential public art embodying the spirit of the community in which they are created. They say this is who we are, this is what we think, this is where we come from, and this is what we want, reflecting most clearly any changes in the sociopolitical environment. Murals lay out a powerful visual image of the ideology of their creators or sponsors, be it the Church during the Renaissance, government funded projects, or individuals expressing opposition. In Mexico, after the Mexican Revolution of 1917, the government commissioned a vast number of mural projects to transmit its revisionist history of the country, and celebrate the empowerment of the underclass in their recent victory. Predominate themes were cultural reclamation, history, pre-conquest civilization, anti-colonialism, anti-bourgeoisie sentiment, celebration of the working class, and highlighting the beauty and struggle of life as a Mexican. This movement moved north, across the border into California as the artists moved and government funding was discontinued. As the sociopolitical environment was rapidly changing in California the emergence of mural work of the Chicano Movement was gaining power and recognition. Their distinct style stemmed from their Mexican predecessors as they delved into their cultural heritage to define what it meant to be Chicano. The rhetoric of visual imagery of the murals created during the 1960's 1970's addressed the economic, educational, historical, political, religious, and social aspects of the Chicano Movement.
Chicano muralism has a long history, dating back prior to the great muralists of the Mexican Revolution in the 1920's, beginning in the late 8th century A.D. Murals are prevalent throughout Mexico geographically and historically. From its southern border with Guatemala, the first frescoes are found in the ancient Mayan city of Bonampak, located in the state of Chiapas. The frescoes date back to the year 790 A.D., realistically
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LaWare, Margaret R. "Encountering visions of Aztlan: arguments for ethnic pride, community activism and cultural revitalization in Chicano murals." Argumentation and Advocacy v. 34 (Winter 1998) p. 140 – 154.