Women's Artivism Across Cultures and Borders: Los Angeles and Oaxaca

This project documents the artwork created by three contemporary women art collectives including: Mujeres de Maiz (MdM)/ Women of the Corn based in East Los Angeles, California, United States of America; Hormigas Bordadoras (HB)/ Embroidery Ants from San Francisco de Tanivet, Oaxaca, Mexico; and Detalle de Mujer de Oaxaca (DM)/ Women’s Detail of Oaxaca based in Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico. To contextualize this project, I discuss Chicana art, Chicana art aesthetic, the vocabulary utilized to discuss Chicana art to provide an understanding of Chicana art. Then, I discuss Chicana art collectives and Chicanas and artivism to highlight Chicana art and its organic relationship to activism. I utilize artivism to discuss Chicana and Mexicana art. I argue that Chicana and Mexicana visual artwork is artivism. In specific, I focus on and explore the visual artwork created by Detalle de Mujer de Oaxaca, Hormigas Bordadoras, and Mujeres de Maiz. In 2015, I conducted semi-structured, open-ended interviews with visual artists Margaret “Quica” Alarcon and Maritza Alvarez from Mujeres de Maiz, members of Hormigas Bordadoras and members of Detalle de Mujer de Oaxaca to document their testimonios. Like visual discourses created in social movements, I argue that the women of the aforementioned visual art collectives are also creating visual discourses. Through critical ethnography, I answer the following research questions: What led to the creation of the women’s art collectives Detalle de Mujer, Hormigas Bordadoras, and Mujeres de Maiz in their communities in Oaxaca, San Francisco de Tanivet, and East Los Angeles? What ethnic, gender, and economic issues do the poor and working class women in Detalle de Mujer, Hormigas Bordadoras, and Mujeres de Maiz face? How is the art of Detalle de Mujer, Hormigas Bordadoras and Mujeres de Maiz a form of activism?