UC Santa Barbara Library Acquires Major Chicano/Latino Graphic Art Collections 

Salvador Güereña

The UC Santa Barbara Library has acquired the Mission Gráfica and La Raza Graphics Collections from the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) in San Francisco’s Mission District. These two discrete collections together consist of several thousand historical silkscreen print posters from the Chicano/Latino visual arts movement. The archives are now part of the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA), a division of UCSB Library’s Special Research Collections.

According to CEMA director Sal Güereña, these acquisitions significantly add to CEMA’s already extensive holdings of Chicano/Latino graphic prints. Once the items in the new collections have been processed and catalogued, they will be available to scholars and the public for research and viewing.

The collections “are going to be housed in an institution of higher education that values the archives, and understands the social and political context that gave rise to them,” said Linda Lucero, former executive director of La Raza Silkscreen Center/La Raza Graphics, which was once a separate organization and later merged with the MCCLA. “Knowing the archives are preserved and accessible to current and future scholars, curators, historians, and others is a dream come true,” Lucero said.

“Not only are we procuring the long-term preservation of this unique collection, said MCCLA Executive Director Jennie Emire Rodriguez, “but we are also providing access to our local and global community. A rich cultural, artistic and colorful piece of our Mission history will be available for all to reflect on and enjoy.”

“The addition of these archives to CEMA supports the Library’s commitment to procuring, preserving and making accessible primary research materials for students, faculty and scholars,” said University Librarian Denise Stephens. “These historical posters and records are unique articles of California and Chicano/Latino history, and will enrich the work of scholars who must often look back in order to move forward.”

Some of the artists featured in the collections are Rene Castro, Enrique Chagoya, Domitilia Dominguez, Juan Fuentes, Pete Gallegos, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ester Hernandez, Linda Lucero, Ralph Maradiaga, Oscar Melara, Consuelo Mendez, Malaquias Montoya, Irene Perez, Michael Rios, Jos Sances and Hebert Siguenza.

Artist Gallegos, also one of the founders of La Raza Silkscreen Center/La Raza Graphics, said, “This artwork in its entirety represents and memorializes an important and crucial period of community action, organizing and passion of what we used to call ‘El Movimiento’ (the Chicano Movement). Precipitated by the ’60s civil rights and anti-war movements, the artwork … documents the Latino/Chicano experience, aspirations, contributions, and expectations of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s right up to the present day. As the artists move on and the arts organizations adapt to the new times, the artwork in this collection/archive will remain for the rest of the world to see who we were and what we did for our community.”

CEMA also has an extensive collection of graphic art from other major centers of Chicana/o art production in California, including Self Help Graphics & Art (Los Angeles), Centro Cultural de la Raza (San Diego), Galería de la Raza (San Francisco) and the Royal Chicano Air Force (Sacramento).

The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA), part of UCSB Library’s Special Research Collections, advances scholarship in ethnic studies through collections of primary research materials. These unique collections document the lives and activities of African Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in California. The collections represent the cultural, artistic, ethnic and racial diversity that characterizes the state’s population. For more information: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/special-collections/cema.

According to its mission statement, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) “was established in 1977 by artists and community activists with a shared vision to promote, preserve and develop the Latino cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Central and South American, and Caribbean people. MCCLA makes the arts accessible as an essential element to the community's development and well-being." Mission Gráfica is the print-making component of the MCCLA. For more information: http://www.missionculturalcenter.org/.

La Raza Silkscreen Center / La Raza Graphics in San Francisco’s Mission District produced silkscreen posters and prints by Chicano and Latino artists, and offered classes in drawing, painting and printmaking, from 1971-1995. La Raza was organized by young artists/organizers who viewed art as a means of self-expression and as a tool for community organizing. The collective produced posters for organizations that announced rallies, fundraisers, and cultural and educational events. Artists also produced posters that were individual expressions of resistance, affirmation and solidarity.  Artists and organizers from New York City, Chicago, Boston, Puerto Rico, Australia, Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other places visited the Center at various times to exchange posters and ideas. The Center gained local, national and international recognition when its posters were exhibited throughout the Southwest, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Tijuana, Mexico City and Havana.