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January 20, 2017

Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum

Exhibition of Mexican and Chicana/o Artwork Explores History, Community-building and Cultural Citizenship

The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA is pleased to present "Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots" at the Lightcatcher building, opening Feb. 4 and showing through May 28, 2017. This exhibition, curated by Executive Director Patricia Leach, explores the development of Chicana/o art, from its beginnings in Mexican art of the early twentieth century, to the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and '70s, to its relevance today. Many of the artworks reflect how Chicana/o art has influenced community building, history making and cultural citizenship for Mexican-Americans and Chicana/os. “The Whatcom Museum has not shown the work of these important artists before, and with a growing Latina/o population in both Whatcom and Skagit Counties, it is wonderful to be able to partner with the Mexican Museum in San Francisco and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, to bring the work of many well-known artists to the Pacific Northwest,” said Leach. During the 1800s and early 1900s, Mexican artwork was largely influenced by artists academically trained in the European Academy style. After the revolution in 1910, the arts were dramatically changed, and artists outside of academia developed new styles. During this time, print-making through the creation of broadsheets—printed text accompanied by illustrations, usually printed on penny presses in Mexico City—became a way for artists to address politics and current events. "Images of Resilience" will feature examples of this art form created by José Guadalupe Posada in the early 1900s. During the 1920s, a new style of art emerged in Mexico. Three internationally prominent artists known as "Los Tres Grandes"—Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco—were hired by the Mexican government to create identifiably Mexican art through murals. Their work emphasized cultural roots with a respect for non-Spanish traditions and instilled a patriotic pride in the Mexican people. A few select artworks by these artists will be displayed in the gallery to represent their contributions, including a Diego Rivera drawing from the Museum's collection. In contrast to the early works of the 1910s and '20s, "Images of Resilience" will also present a variety of artists influenced by the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and '70s. Artists of this era, and in the decades following, were motivated by cultural reclamation and the struggle for social justice. Drawing on styles created post-revolution, this era of Chicana/o art deals with rural themes—agriculture, religious holidays, folk heritage—as well as, the new urbanized lives that Mexican-Americans were living, shown through pop culture, cars and Hollywood iconography. "Within the context of the Chicana/o movement for social justice, artists took their place in creating images and forms of art that would help enlist others in this movement for human rights," said artist and scholar Amalia Mesa-Bains. "The work of individual artists and collectives was often anchored in community-based organizations." "Images of Resilience" will feature the work of contemporary artists such as Patssi Valdez, Ester Hernandez, Carmen Lomas Garza, Gronk, Enrique Chagoya, Frank Romero, and many more. The exhibition will also include mixed-media paintings by Seattle artist Cecilia Concepción Alvarez, and prints and paintings by Seattle artist Alfredo Arreguín. "Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots" is sponsored by Heritage Bank and will be on exhibition Feb. 4 through May 28, 2017 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., Bellingham, Wash. 98225. The Lightcatcher is open Wed. – Sun., Noon – 5 p.m. Members are invited to a member-only preview on Fri., Feb. 3, 5-7 p.m. in the Lightcatcher. Related programs:

  • Public lecture with Seattle artists Cecilia Concepción Alvarez and Alfredo Arreguín, Sat., Feb. 4, 2 p.m. at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. $5 suggested donation/Museum members free.
  • Docent tours: Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. beginning Sun., Feb. 12. Tours last one hour, start in the Lightcatcher lobby and are included with admission/free to members.
  • Film Screening: "Chicano Legacy: 40 Años," co-presented with the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, Sun., Feb. 19, 2 p.m. at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. Free.
  • Public lecture with artist and scholar Amalia Mesa-Bains, Wed., March 22, 12:30 p.m. at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. $5 suggested donation/Museum members free.
For more information about the Whatcom Museum, visit whatcommuseum.org.

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