'sup by Vincent Valdez

Art and Mexican American Identities

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Emerging in the 1960s, the Chicano Art Movement worked to resist ethnic stereotypes and celebrate Mexican American identity. Today, a new generation of Mexican American artists draw inspiration from the Movement, continuing its work challenging social constructs and racial discrimination while creating their own definitions of what it means to be Latino in America.

Artist Vincent Valdez (b. 1977) has been inspired by the political content of the Chicano Art Movement since he was a teen, but he does not identify as being part of the Movement. As he states, “I acknowledge and respect the cultural and political struggles of the Chicano Movement that came before me, and some artists specifically state that their work is a continuation of the Movement, but I’m an American-born artist who happens to be Mexican.” Although Valdez’s work centers on Mexican American characters, he sees these images as “very American before they are ever Mexican or Chicano only.”

Several stereotypically masculine characters are often seen in Valdez’s work — a boxer, a soldier, a martyr, an urban youth — each embodying a different socio-political reality of Latino communities. For his painting ‘sup, Valdez used his younger brother as a model for a portrait of a fictional young man representing a generation of stoic, urban youth from the Latino neighborhood in San Antonio where they grew up. Valdez also uses his paintings and drawings to examine marginalized or forgotten history, like the lynchings of Mexican Americans in the U.S. or the activities of the KKK, and its enduring impact today.

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'sup by Vincent Valdez Artifact from San Antonio, TX
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