The Chicano Mural Movement began as an artistic renaissance in the U.S. Southwest during the 1960s. Unlike in Mexico, its first murals were not commissioned, promoted or sponsored by the government, companies or individuals; the Chicano artists instead painted on neighborhood buildings, schools, and churches. This reemergence of muralism was in part a reaction to the social situation of the time. The artists were young Chicanos; African Americans and European Americans (many of whom never went to art school) who supported social movements actively, expressed their non-conformist New Left ideology openly, and used their skills to aid political movements.
Some Chicano artists were professionally trained, but the remarkable artistic quality of the best of their murals was due to the influence of earlier Mexican muralism on their work.
These Chicano artists worked in neighborhoods with self-taught artists, residents and young people teaching them the techniques so they would join the mural movement.
The Chicano movement evolved in two directions, one emphasizing the Chicano cultural identity, and the other one stressing the political one. These two overlapped in many cases. The images of the first murals derive from both sources. The cultural murals portrayed common images of the pre-Columbian history: copies of ancient Mayan murals, Olmec sculptures, pyramids, different representations of indigenous Mexicans, religious motives: the Virgin of Guadalupe (patron saint of Mexico)-the only representation of a woman-, the "tripartite head" (representing the Indian, Mestizo and Spanish traditions)…
The political murals represented different events of the history of Mexico, paying special attention to political leaders like César Chavez (founder of the UFW -United Farm Workers Association) or Mexican revolutionary heroes like Emiliano Zapata and/or Francisco (Pancho) Villa. Other prominent revolutionaries or solidarity figures such as Ernesto (Ché) Guevara or Martin Luther King Jr. were also represented.