The Chicana/Chicano Biennial of 2009

Amanecer (Dawn) - Mark Vallen. 2006. 9" x 12". Oil on masonite panel. The painting depicts a group of striking workers huddled in the early morning light as they prepare for the day's rallies and picket lines. The title alludes to better days for organized labor.

Amanecer (Dawn) - Mark Vallen. 2006. 9" x 12". Oil on masonite panel. The painting depicts a group of striking workers huddled in the early morning light as they prepare for the day's rallies and picket lines.

Two of my oil paintings are on display at the National Chicana/Chicano Biennial of 2009, organized by MACLA, or the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (Movement of Latin American Art and Culture). This will be the third biennial mounted by MACLA, which serves the community of San Jose, California, as well as the larger San Francisco Bay area of northern California.

My paintings portray striking Chicano/Latino/Immigrant workers, and the images were specifically inspired by a real world event, the massive Los Angeles Janitors strike of 2000. While based on that historic work stoppage, the paintings clearly allude to labor unrest in other cities, states, and countries - and they are timely expressions given the current international economic meltdown.

The L.A. Janitor’s strike was organized by Justice for Janitors/SEIU Local 1877, and at the time the labor action heralded a new militancy and organizational capacity for the union movement in the U.S.

With these particular paintings I wanted to praise the boldness of Latino workers, but also intended to instill an awareness of class, which in my opinion is as important as any exploration of cultural identity - especially in these times. In a press release for its 2009 National Chicana/o Biennial, MACLA stated;

“over the last thirty-five years, the field of Chicana/o art and scholarship has developed and expanded exponentially. As an arts movement that developed alongside the Chicana/o civil rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, Chicana/o art emerged in direct correlation to social change.”

I am in full agreement with that assessment, and so aspire to help reconnect contemporary Chicano art with its deep and profound history of social awareness. That is the basis for my participation in the MACLA Biennial. The MACLA Chicana/o Biennial opened on June 5, 2009, and runs until August 8, 2009. Visit the MACLA website at: www.maclaarte.org.

One Response to “The Chicana/Chicano Biennial of 2009”

  1. [...] de los Muertos exhibition (September-November). I also had successful showings of my works at the Chicana/Chicano Biennial at the MACLA gallery in San Jose, California (June-August); at the Brand Library Art Gallery & [...]