Washington Vacations

Muratist Art In Washington s Latino Communities

The Muralist Art Movement that began in the 1960s in the United States as a result of the Chicano civil rights movement had a strong influence on Latin American art and culture in the Pacific Northwest. Communities in Eastern Washington, such as Wapato and Walla Walla, saw an awakening of the arts and cultural activity inspired by the national Muralist Art Movement. Seattle also became a hub for murals depicting the educational, economic, and social strug-

gles of Latin American people in the state, often displayed at cultural centers and the University of Washington. The University of Washington established a Centro de Estudios Chicanos; Metamorfosis, a magazine of Chicano/Latino art and literature in the Northwest, went into publication.

The Muralist art of the Pacific Northwest shared many similarities with previous forms of Chicano art namely Aztec, Mayan, and Inca pre-Columbian images. Several Latin American artists emerged from this movement, such as Emilio Aguayo, Daniel DeSiga, and Pablo O’Higgins. However, the art that flourished in Washington took on a distinct Northwest flair that reflected the area’s unique agricultural environment. Thus, the Muralist Art Movement in Washington had an undeniably regional appearance that captured the racism and labor struggles of the area farmworkers. Another distinct difference between the Muralist Art Movement in Washington and other parts of the United States was the role of community social-service agencies in Washington, some of which functioned primarily as cultural centers for the production of Latino art.22

In addition to the Muralist Art Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, and in response to the Chicano civil rights struggle, other cultural enterprises were established in Washington. Theatre groups, such as Los Bailadoes de Bronce (the Bronze Dancers) and El Teatro del Piojo (Theater of Lice), sprouted in the region to promote not only Mexican dance, music, and cultural traditions within the community, but also to raise awareness of social and environmental issues affecting Latin Americans in the Pacific Northwest. La Escuelita was founded in Granger, Washington, to promote the preservation of the Spanish language, the study of Mexican history, and current Mexican and Mexican American cultural traditions. La Sociedad Mutualista was also founded in Granger in 1968 as a selfhelp foundation and sponsor of Mexican and Mexican American social and cultural events.23,24

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