Chicana artist Juana Alicia (born in Newark, New Jersey in 1953) applies her activism for social justice through her art. First I will discuss the terminology of Chicano/or Chicana. The term’s historical genesis comes from the 1960s -1970s political movement, also known as el movimiento. Throughout my research the term has been described as a complex term but it refers to people of Mexican ancestry with a concern for social justice and a desire to decolonize barriers physically and mentally. Often, barriers were broken down with powerful works of art. Juana Alicia has described one work in particular, her La Llorona’s Sacred Waters (2004), as her “Guernica,” in reference to Pablo Picasso’s strident antiwar painting of 1937. As Picasso responded to the bombing of Guernica in his artwork, this work, in shades of blue, makes a social commentary on environmental issues and Third World women with the incorporation of historical and folkloric references to the Aztec goddess Chalchiuhtlicue and legendary figure La Llorona.
Before La Llorona’s Sacred Waters, there was a previous mural in the same spot, painted as one of Juana Alicia’s first murals in 1983 called Las Lechugeras. In 2004 due to water damage to the wall, the artist was given a warning that the mural would be destroyed. She was given the opportunity to create a new work which was La Llorona’s Sacred Waters. Las Lechugeras similarly referenced environmental issues, dealing with pesticide spraying on farmworkers – including Juana Alicia herself, while she was pregnant in the 1970s. Therefore, La Llorona shows the continuation of environmental struggle involving water and women.
Maricruz Gutierrez, ’14
Rio Grande City, TX
Majors: Art History, Individualized: Archaeology
Sponsor: Ellen Hoobler