On your way to inauguration? Chicana art exhibit in Washington

Chicana Art and Experience: “Mujeres con Garbo” is an exhibition of more than 30 prints, paintings, posters and photographs by women who reflect on the experiences and struggles of Mexican Americans. The show features some of the most prominent artists in the United States today. It will be displayed at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., November 19, 2008–to May 31, 2009.

In its most general application, Chicano/Chicana refers to men and women of Mexican descent living in or born in the United States. More specifically, however, the term describes an individual’s self-identification with a rich, complex fusion of indigenous, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo ancestry and culture. The term came to new prominence in the civil rights and labor struggles of late 1960s. It continues to be associated with a broad movement to advance the rights and interests of Mexican-Americans and to preserve their unique contributions to American culture.

This exhibit concentrates on works of art that depict the specific concerns of working Chicanas—organizing, immigration, women’s rights, health care, workplace safety, housing, community and cultural identity. The title of the show comes from Juana Alicia’s poster “Women with Attitude/Mujeres con Garbo.” The Spanish word garbo is more complex than the English word “attitude”; it combines assertiveness with grace, elegance and agility—a perfect way to sum up the work in this exhibit.

The artists represented in the show are Barbara Carrrasco, Ester Hernández, Cecilia Concepción Alvarez, Laura Álvarez, Favianna Rodriguez, Yreina Cervántez, Juana Alicia, Irene Simmons, Delilah Montoya, Laura Molina, Tina Hernández, Yolanda López, Carmen Lomas Garza and Kathy Vargas. The exhibit was organized by Rex Weil, an artist, independent curator, writer and educator living and working in Washington, D.C.