Art For A Change: Strike/Huelga

Amanecer (Dawn) is one of two oil paintings by California artist Mark Vallen, which will be on display at the National Chicana/Chicano Biennial of 2009, organized by MACLA, or the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (Movement of Latin American Art and Culture).

This will be the third biennial mounted by MACLA, which serves the community of San Jose, California, as well as the larger San Francisco Bay area of northern California.

The paintings portray striking Chicano/Latino/immigrant workers and the images, the artist says, were specifically inspired by a real world event, the massive Los Angeles Janitors strike of 2000.

“While based on that historic work stoppage, the paintings clearly allude to labor unrest in other cities, states, and countries – and they are timely expressions given the current international economic meltdown,” Vallens said in his electronic newsletter Art For A Change

The L.A. Janitor’s strike was organized by Justice for Janitors/SEIU Local 1877, and at the time the labor action heralded a new militancy and organizational capacity for the union movement in the United States.

“With these particular paintings I wanted to praise the boldness of Latino workers, but I also intended to instill an awareness of class, which in my opinion is as important as any exploration of cultural identity – especially in these times,” Vallen said.

In a press release for its 2009 National Chicana/o Biennial, MACLA stated, ‘Over the last thirty-five years, the field of Chicana/o art and scholarship has developed and expanded exponentially. As an arts movement that developed alongside the Chicana/o civil rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, Chicana/o art emerged in direct correlation to social change

The MACLA Chicana/o Biennial opens on June 5, 2009, and runs until August 8, 2009. The Opening Reception takes place on Friday, June 5, from 8 to l0 p.m. Visit the MACLA website at: