The Arizona State University Hispanic Research Center (HRC) is pleased to announce an art poster based on the image of Alfredo Arreguín’s painting, The Return to Aztlán (2006, oil on canvas, 60” x 48”). The original painting is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. It has been on display at the “American Search for Justice” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery.

The historical breadth of the painting is perfectly attuned to the year 2010 and it presents an artistically rendered genealogical tree of two hundred years of Mexican and Latin American history. At the top left and the top right of the painting appear the portraits, respectively, of Miguel Hidalgo and José María Morelos, the two patriotic Mexican priests who died for the cause of Mexican Independence from Spain. Hidalgo rallied the Mexican people, especially the mestizos and the indios to the cause of independence. He gave his life for the cause and he was succeeded by Morelos who also gave his life for the cause. Mexican Independence was not won until 1821. Between the two liberator-priests, Hidalgo and Morelos, is the icon of the United Farm Workers, an eagle stylized in the form of an inverted ancient Mesoamerican pyramid. This symbol of the United Farm Workers was chosen by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta themselves, co-founders of the United Farmworkers.

The theme of social justice is maintained in the portraits that in succession follow Hidalgo and Morelos. These are from left to right: César Chávez, founder of the UFW. Emiliano Zapata, the purest moral paragon of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, and like Hidalgo and Morelos, a revolutionary who willingly gave his life for the Causa of the common people of Mexico. On the far right is the portrait of Dolores Huerta. Born in 1930, she co-founded in 1962 the National Farm Workers Association that would ultimately be called the United Farm Workers. Upon Chavez's untimely death on 23 April 1993, Dolores Huerta took over the leadership of the UFW. She is currently First Vice President of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW).

The Return to Aztlán is a canonical work and superb example of Alfredo Arreguín’s artistic oeuvre in every respect. In accord with many of the artist’s works, the theme is social justice over the decades and centuries centered on the Mexican heroes of the common people of indisputable character. The icons of Hidalgo, Morelos, Zapata, César Chávez, and Dolores Huerta appear in other Arreguín works but this is the first time that they appear as a conjunto. Consistent with his characteristic works, the scope and dimensions (5 ft x 4 ft) of The Return to Aztlán may properly be called “heroic.”

The style of Alfredo Arreguín is extraordinarily innovative and unique. He has been hailed in the art world for his brilliant contributions to the visual arts. His characteristic motifs of ornamental overlay, utilizing motifs of the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, his long-time home, reflects a technique of layered patterning that encloses and highlights the portraits of the painting and the names of the subjects themselves, encasing them in an array that relates to the style of Mexican folk artists and to ancient indigenous American motifs and designs. Arreguín excels in his use of color, line, and light. In these facets of his style he exemplifies the Mexican artistic traditions in their most productive moments as well as the universality of the human condition and its depiction in figural art, stylized indigenous design, and geometric pattern.

About the artist: Alfredo Arreguín was born in 1935 in the beautiful city of Morelia, state of Michoacán, in Mexico. Morelia is renowned for its colonial splendor and has been the seat of several artists of international stature. He has lived in Seattle for decades and is nationally and internationally recognized as an artist of profound originality and importance in both his themes and style.

--Gary Francisco Keller, Arizona State University

Road to Aztlan

The Return to Aztlán
2010 | Poster | 36"x24"
$20 unsigned; $50 signed

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Alfredo Arreguín