My early beginnings as a woman muralist/artist were directed toward children and their simple hopes and dreams. I called my work, “Arte Inocencia” (Innocent Art) because it spoke to the special needs of children who were experiencing the stark reality of living in the “barrios” (low income neighborhoods) of East Los Angeles. I wanted to emphasize sunny and untroubled times ahead for them with themes relating to fantasy, Mother Nature, the earth and what grows in it, and provide cultural history. My goal was to create a style as simple as a child’s illustration book but in mural form. My murals depicted an uplifting and positive point of view with high hopes for a brighter future for the children which spoke across ethnic stereotypes and created a bridge of understanding for all.
It was through the mural creation process that I gained a sense of pride about my artistic abilities and confidence to pursue my artistic growth. As a freelance artist, I aspired to paint pictures bigger than life. Up to this point my experience in art expression had been limited to primitive messages of fantasy, dreams, and family. During the early muralist movement, their social significance held powerful messages in the community. Inasmuch as my knowledge of the history of Mexican murals was limited, I surrounded myself with male artists from the community which afforded me the exposure needed to further grow as an artist. I continued to pursue various directions in art, but as a woman “Chicana” artist living in America, ways of extracting an income with my art were limited. I was unable to survive on what I was able to make as a teacher. As a result, I was always looking for anything that I could do to bring in some income. At the age of 46 I decided to pursue art through higher education, and this report is where that road has lead.
Today my art focuses on educating people about “Chicano” living and emphasizing the significance these members of the community play as part of the global art movement. I find expression through my “Chicana” creative spirit, working cultural statements that relate to the human element of being Latina.
Photo credit: Maya Santos, FFF Media