Smithsonian Center for Lation Initiatives
The Interpretation and Representation of Latino Cultures: Research and Museums Conference Documentation
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Huacuja, Judith L.

Challenging Traditional Curatorial Practices

Historicizing Narratives

Borders and Diasporas

Aesthetics Beauty

The Body: The Real and the Symbolic

All Abstracts



Chicana Critical Pedagogies:Chicana Art as Critique and Intervention

Cultural critic Alejandra Elenes, in her article “Border/Transformative Pedagogies at the End of the Millennium,” [1] calls for research into new pedagogies that would engross students in a critical dialogue where complex cultural identifications and social practices are explored, with the intention of promoting new ways of relating to social and material relations.  This paper answers that call by examining the critical pedagogical interventions conducted by two leading Chicana artist/activists, and the resulting ruptures, displacements and changed consciousness of students working within a university setting.  This paper will outline contemporary Chicana critical pedagogy and its strategies as implemented by the artists Yolanda Lopez and Celia Herrera Rodriguez as they visit the University of Dayton campus during 2001-2002. 

For two decades, Lopez and Herrera Rodriguez have used installation, performance and multi-media art as a means to engage, educate, and create social change.  Through the incorporation of traditional Mexican art forms (altares), indigenous practices (ceremonia y palabras) and contemporary interdisciplinary art forms (including sculpture, painting, video, music and spoken word) these artists continue to advance Chicano women's issues as they depict class and ethnic difference.  Using the arena of cultural/intellectual institutions (museums, galleries and universities), these artists enlist a diverse range of students as co-creators who build communities of discourse as they make critical cultural investigations of racial, ethnic, and gendered social relations.

This paper reviews images, videos, artists' interviews, and student commentaries about the art and the critical discourses engendered by the artists’ campus visits.  Chicana artists, at the forefront of interdisciplinary cultural analysis, bring to their art praxis a number of interventions including an emphasis on language, history and power, as well as an examination of how the construction of knowledge participates within relations of power. In their efforts to resist the cultural problem of racism and patriarchy, these contemporary Chicana artists have developed their own specific strategies, educational interventions, and pedagogies that offer a more fully engaged art practice.

[1] Alejandra Elenes, “Border/Transformative Pedagogies at the End of the Millennium: Chicana/o Cultural Studies and Education,” in Decolonial Voices, eds. Arturo J. Aldama and Naomi H. Quiñonez, Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 2002, 245-261.

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