In the 1960s and 1970s, when Chicano movement became a quest for social justice, national identity and Latino pride, it could not go unnoticed that the impact had already left traces in the American pop culture. Understandably, Mexican-Americans had a great grasp of cultural identity and were well aware of the historical rational behind the movement which was consistent with the cultural representation and had strong folkloric, religious, Marxist, and indigenous foundation. According to Charles Tatum (2001), the art representation of the Chicano movement came from two sources, or better, it was categorized in two levels: 1) popular religious art, as a strong influence of the Catholic Church. Some of these influences are seen also today in “home and roadside religious shrines and cemetery art; and Milagros”
and 2) popular secular art as a form of social revolt, social-political problems, and protest. Most of these art works were represented in paintings but also murals in the traditions of Diego Rivera, sheer representations of indigenous roots.
A few names that stood out with their art work during the Chicano Movement were Carmen Lomas Garza and Judith Baca. Lomas-Garza, a born Texan with strong Mexican roots, she was known in for her paintings depicting sceneries from her family life and tradition, secular and also religious themes. Another well-known artist in the sixties and seventies who portrayed the life of Mexican-Americans was Judith Baca. Born in Los Angeles, Baca focused on vivid colors and had a very strong sense of belonging to the Mexican heritage, which in her painting is depicted fanatically. But her accomplishments in arts are mostly in murals. Baca was trained in Mexico City to paint murals where she adopted the techniques and styles. She later returned to Los Angeles, embarking an ambitious project “The Great Wall of Los Angeles,” a half mile mural depicting different races and ethnicities.
Carlos Francisco Jackson in his book “Chicana and Chicano Art: ProtestArte,” reinforced the idea that the artistic representation of Chicano art mirrored the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, the political aspirations and it was a tool to reach larger audiences as oppose to museums and venues.
Along with the Chicano movement itself as efforts of self-identity, the Chicano art followed a quite similar way. Struggles for representing in art the national identity were recorded not only inside of United States territory, but also in Mexico, where the efforts of separating from the Spanish influence and creating a national identity became poignant in the first half of the 1900s. These efforts and struggles to separate from the peninsular influence inspired many Chicano artists who felt compelled to bring foreword the indigenous culture as part of the heritage.
Chicano art in the sixties and seventies when the quest for social-identity intensified was not a competitive art in nature, rather a collective art, an exhibition of gathered efforts and solidarity. It was meant to awaken the Latino identity and organize the efforts at national scale such as other cities and states. Among other these efforts had an impact artistically. Authors and artists discussed their ideas, set standards and challenged one another on new ideas and goals.