Painting: Oil on Canvas.
My painting, "Libros No Bombas" (Books Not Bombs), was one of two canvases I premiered at the exhibition, "¡ADELANTE! Mexican American Artists: 1960s and Beyond," which took place at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, California from September 9, 2011 through January 1, 2012. My oil paintings were created especially for the exhibition. The show was an exploration of the world of Chicano art, and included artworks from "veteranos" of the 1960s Chicano Arts Movement, as well as paintings, drawings, and prints from a whole new generation of artists involved in creating Chicanarte (Chicano art).
At first glance "Libros No Bombas" seems only a simple portrait of a teenage girl, but the background story of the artwork and how I invite viewers to consider it, is what gives the painting its socio-political significance. Witnessing thousands of youthful antiwar activists at the 2010 Chicano Moratorium protest in East Los Angeles inspired me to paint this portrait of a young Mexican-American student toting a backpack. I wanted my canvas to give a picture of the idealism of youth striving for decent education in these times of economic collapse, draconian government cutbacks, and endless war.
"Libros No Bombas" and "Books Not Bombs!" were slogans written on placards and chanted during L.A.'s 2010 Chicano Moratorium protest, however the catchphrase belongs to people everywhere who work for an end to illiteracy and under-education as suffered in underprivileged working class communities. My artwork reminds viewers that overworked and underpaid teachers, ill-equipped schools, shrinking education resources, and austerity budgets are the social costs of an economic system tied to empire and militarism.
Libros No Bombas (Books Not Bombs) does not require framing. The canvas is stretched over solid wood stretcher bars that are two inches in width; the outer edges of the canvas covered stretcher bars are painted mat black. When the painting is hung and viewed from the side, its black edges give a finished, professional look.
Keywords: portrait, realism, oil painting, chicano art, Social Realism