I heard about a really cool exhibit that is coming to Museum of Anthropology that I think you should check out. I love the idea of the intersection of art and activism – my great great grandfather’s art was activist because he made masks for potlatch which was illegal at the time. You can actually see some of his work at the MOA, if you look up Willie Seaweed. I love getting to go see his art at the MOA and it’s one of my son’s favourite places. I don’t know much about the history of Indigenous people in Mexico myself but it looks like this is a great opportunity to learn. This is what the museum says about their exhibit:
“Xicanx: Dreamers + Changemakers / Soñadores + creadores del cambio showcases for the first time in Canada the rich traditions of 33 Xicanx (the neutral grammatical gender of Chicano/a) artists, whose art practices draw on their rich Mexican-American heritage and generations of activism that began as part of El Movimiento, the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S.
A celebration of the many Xicanx artists who have and continue to combine art and activism in the ongoing fight for social justice, the exhibition is jointly curated by Greta de León, Executive Director of The Americas Research Network, and Jill Baird, Curator of Education at MOA.
Xicanx features artworks by 33 Mexican-American artists from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, New York and Texas, most exhibiting in Canada for the first time. The exhibition centres around five themes: neighbourhoods, identity, borderlands, home, and activism. Works span from 1970 to 2022, and encompass predominantly paintings and prints, but also sculptural works, multimedia and a newly commissioned, site-specific installation with a spoken-word video component.”
What you will see as part of the exhibit
This is how the museum describes the art you will see:
“Of the works that represent the earlier era of the Xicanx movement, one highlight is Rudy Treviño’s Lettuce Field with Target and Skull (1975), a painting that confronts the labour unrest and immigration issues central to major protests and boycotts in the 1970s, primarily by Mexican and Mexican-American farmworkers.
Another highlight of early work is by renowned artist and muralist Judith F. Baca. Her groundbreaking performance installation Judith F. Baca as La Pachuca (1976) is represented in the exhibition with five photographs from the performance. In an artistic movement often dominated by the male lens, Baca plays with an unapologetically bold Chicana identity, dressed as a Pachuca, a rebellious woman.
Of note from more recent Xicanx works is Alejandro Diaz’s Make Tacos Not War (2017), a simple, yet powerful, statement in neon sign form that feels especially resonant today, with multiple countries currently embroiled in various wars. The work is a call for peace and good food – two lifegiving elements essential to quality of life.
Roberto Jose Gonzalez’ diptych El Paso 8/3/19 and No Hate, No Fear (2019) honours the 23 massacre victims in the El Paso, Texas Walmart shooting on August 3, 2019. Considered the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history, the horrific massacre is represented through skeletons, offering an important commentary on the violent act while simultaneously evoking the Mexican traditions of Día de los Muertos.
Essential to the Xicanx community are queer and non-binary artists, who express their struggle for representation and acceptance both inside and outside of their communities. Queer feminist Debora Kuetzpal Vasquez has created Citali: Cuando Eramos Sanos (2012), a cartoon anti-hero who challenges social and political issues pertaining to womxn and La Raza (culturally translated as “the people”). Non-binary artist Moises Salazar uses materials and practices unnecessarily termed women’s work – crocheting, glitter, and textiles – to put forth their identity and ongoing struggle for acceptance.”
What online options are available?
I wondered about this because I can’t always get into town from the suburbs, but there is an opportunity to learn more online. This is what the museum advised: The exhibition is accompanied by Xicanx Digital, an online platform with artists’ contributions and essays on Xicanx film, food, music and murals. It is accessible in the gallery and online at www.xicanxart.com.
The exhibit runs from May 12, 2022 to January 1, 2023 and you can get tickets to the museum on their website.