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Chicana artist dedicates her art to Latinx culture

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Abelina Nuñez
Social Media Editor

Barbara Carrasco, a Los Angeles-based Chicana artist and activist, spoke about her art with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta Wednesday at the Virtual Latinx Heritage Month series with 16 participants via Zoom.

Carrasco’s work critiques dominant cultural stereotypes involving socioeconomics, race, gender and sexuality. She has painted murals in the United States, the European Union and Latin America. 

“I didn’t realize at the time that I was going to work so hard for 15 years doing all their huge banners for the conventions and all that,” Carrasco said. 

At 19, Carrasco asked Cesar Chavez if she could work with him, and Chavez agreed since they needed an artist to help get the word out.

One of Carrasco’s works was a 30-by-30-foot banner. She asked non-artists to help her paint the mural since Chavez gave her a short deadline.

“It was a lot of physical labor,” Carrasco said. “But the best part (was) having a one-on-one meeting with (Chavez) and discussing what issues are really important to the farmworkers.”

Carrasco was working on her personal work while working with the farmers. One of her personal pieces was a feminist piece that drew a lot of attention. 

“The response from this print was so positive and so engaging with the community and especially women of color, and I just couldn’t get over that an image could be so powerful that it spoke to so many people,” she said. 

Carrasco’s mural, “L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective,” was shown first at the Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. The mural was the history of Los Angeles in a woman’s hair showing parts of the Tongva culture: fishing, building huts, and gathering nuts. 

“It’s been a big, long journey of dealing with the community, historians, writers, and a lot of work has gone into this mural,” she said. 

Carrasco decided to do a portrait of her friend and American labor leader, Dolores Huerta, since Huerta has helped many people in her lifetime. 

“To me, in my eyes, is she’s a real, true feminist because she really does connect women with other women, and I think that’s really great,” she said. “So when I chose to do a portrait of her, I wanted to show how strong she was, but also how sensitive.”

The portrait was later purchased by the National Portrait Gallery for their permanent collection. She said that Shepard Fairey’s portrait of Obama named “Hope” was inspired by her portrait of Dolores Huerta. 

At the end of the event, participants were able to unmute to comment or ask questions while others commented in the chatbox.

“It was such a wonderful presentation, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing that full mural up close,” Al Clark, professor of humanities, said. 

“Thank you so much, your art is beautiful and amazing, and dope, and I love it,” Misty Levingston, associate director of multicultural affairs and black student services, said.

Giselle Ruiz, sophomore legal studies major, complimented the work of the artist

“I think the event was inspirational on how a mural and an artist can have such an impact on society and the views of people,” Ruiz said.

Ana Flores, junior political science major, said that Carrasco’s work is inspiring.

“Ms. Carrasco is very inspiring with her works; she touches me with her art covering Los Angeles multicultural history,” Flores said in the chat of the Zoom. “This history covers Hispanic, African American, and Asian Americans. Her contribution to the art world brings to light Hispanic experience in Los Angeles.”

Abelina Nuñez can be reached at abelina.nunez@laverne.edu.

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