Mel Casas


C. I. A.

Chicano Image Achievement
Co-extension of the Barrio


This is not an attempt at offering a package definition or an apologia for the reality of Chicano art.
In a social structure that is so matter-of-fact about the validity of Anglo American art, Indian art and Eskimo art…
Why a state of askance concerning Chicano art? What is the nature of Chicano art that turns it into an enigma?
Could it be that in the process of institutionalization of values, people (a people) are treated as accessories and related only to “fields” considered appropriate to and for them?
Chicanos are still dependent, and not necessarily through apathy, on Anglo economic, political social and aesthetic structures – still depending on their “liberalism” for their social mobility.
If cultural independence implies a separatist society – let it be pointed out that “separate but equal” has been the American nightmare – It’s time to wake up.




BUT what does all this have to do with Chicano art?????
If art is communication and communication (flow of information) leads to learning. And if learning is to be treated as a commodity,
There are some basic elements that should be considered for the survival of Chicano art. There is a need to achieve a state of:



<---- Political - freedom for art ---->

<---- Economic - freedom to afford the luxury of art ---->

<---- Social - freedom to value art ---->




Chicano art at least for now is a social mirror (espejo social)

Its nature of intent and expectation, is to avoid cultural schizophrenia by seeking a visual identity.


Chicanismo – humanistic bill of right


an act of re-alignment for the abused.

  • strength is its humanism
  • faith is the forgotten
  • duty democracy
  • mission the de-enfranchized
  • structure pluristic
  • purpose group cohesion to initiate
Aesthetic thrust
Historical thrust
Philosophical thrust


Enhance level of visibility
Movement towards dignity, destiny
How are the chicano artists going to catapult BROWN VISION beyond its literal sense and give meaning to its visual lacuna?
As a liberal speaking in liberalese (barriolese) let me say that chicanismo is offensive to bigots.
We are
  • an act of PROVOCATION
  • a point of CONTENTION
  • visual ABRASION
  • iconic FRICTION
  • the PRIMORIAL ENGRAMS of chicanismo
  • the VISUAL PROJECTIONISTS for the Chicanos
  • ARTISTS……………….C/S


CHICANO ARTISTS: Contingency Factors

Invariably we are asked: Are you Chicano Artists?

The question is but the proof of the melting pot fallacy. Thus, how can we be otherwise but Chicanos. Physically, psychologically and philosophically we are viewed as outsiders and programmed to consider ourselves as such. The results are:

1. Disassociation through introspection and forced personal evaluation.

2. Chicanos art approach is based on the concept of establishing an identity through visual means.

3. The hope is that visual congruity will in turn give us psychic harmony – a statement of our evolving condition and position as Chicanos.

4. Artists are bound to the obligation of interpreting their environment and reacting to it. Chicano artists are duty bound to act as spokesmen and give visual reality to the Chicano vision.

5. We are iconoclasts, not by choice, but by circumstances out to destroy stereotypes and demolish visual cliches. We hope, in the process, to encounter new pure forms that will act as catalysts for a visual nascence and awaken the dormant chicanoio potential.

6. The Chicano artist must be on guard against the proclivity to search for easy iconographic solutions.

7. Chicano art must continue to engage itself with the profound experiences of its age------------------------>> THIS IS THE CHICANO AGE.

A process of cultural secession (social internalization process) must be initiated in order to allow us to begin to view ourselves with our own eyes and arrive at out own definition about our state of existence and express the nature of our concern for this state.

Chicano Art is not Art for Art’s Sake but Art for Human Sake