The Politics of Portrayal: Three Generations of Chicana Portraiture in Los Angeles

In the 1970s when Chicano art emerged as an activist art movement (not yet with the label Chicanx), Chicana artists participated within this new and very political genre, sometimes as graphic artists or printmakers, sometimes as filmmakers or photographers, but most often as painters. Their work became a movement within a movement as Chicana painters often had to assert their talent and presence with an iconography that spoke to this situation. At the time, the imagery referenced issues of female presence, equality, and belonging while initiating new and transformative representations of their communities. The most compelling means by which this was accomplished was naturally via the portrait, and the portrait was immediately political.

By the millennium, the genre had evolved. Chicana portraiture became the medium that visualized community and illustrated the narrative of an ongoing social, cultural and political movement. Today, with over five decades of art production, we can now see the brilliantly diverse and evolving tapestry of the genre.

The Politics of Portrayal: Three Generations of Chicana Portraiture in Los Angeles connects artistic production from Baby Boomer to Generation X to Millennial generations, and features the work of artists, Barbara Carrasco, Yreina D. Cervántez, Emilia Cruz, Karla Diaz, Shizu Salamando, and Maritza Torres.

— Sybil Venegas, Curator

Installation Shots:

Yreina D. Cervántez (Courtesy of the Artist and Curator Sybil Venegas):

Maritza Torres:

Karla Diaz (Courtesy of the Artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles):

Emilia Cruz:

Shizu Salamando (Courtesy of Charlie James Gallery, Surito, Antonio Murzi, and Amy Lyford):

Barbara Carrasco (Courtesy of the Artist, Self-Help Graphics, and Avenue 50 Studio):