Exhibitions

La tinta grita/The Ink Shouts: The Art of Social Resistance in Oaxaca, Mexico

July 20, 2008 – December 7, 2008

“Even if you know little or nothing about the complex political events that inspired it, the art’s technical skill and emotive power is hard to miss.”
Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2008

In 2006, the Mexican state of Oaxaca experienced seven months of social conflict that resulted in at least eighteen deaths and the occupation of Oaxaca City by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) a confederation that included concerned citizens, teachers, and representatives of indigenous communities. Strong-arm tactics by city and state officials against public demonstrations inspired a group of designers and artists, products of Oaxaca’s acclaimed visual arts programs, to use the city walls as a canvas for conveying their outrage over social injustice by creating bold graphic images of remarkable quality, sophistication, and wit. Calling themselves ASARO, Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca, the artists remain anonymous both to avoid persecution and to emphasize that it’s the causes they voice through their art collectively that is important, not their individual identities. La tinta grita/The Ink Shouts features more than thirty of their wood block prints and stenciled works, which evoke a Mexican history of portraying social themes graphically, in the tradition of Posada, Siqueiros, Orozco, Rivera, and Toledo.

Exhibition In Depth

In 2006, the Mexican state of Oaxaca experienced seven months of social conflict that resulted in at least eighteen deaths and the occupation of Oaxaca City by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), a confederation that included concerned citizens, teachers, and representatives of indigenous communities. Strong-arm tactics by city and state officials against public demonstrations inspired a group of designers and artists, products of Oaxaca’s acclaimed visual arts programs, to use the city walls as a canvas to convey their outrage over social injustice. A selection of more than thirty wood block prints and stencils created by the artists, who call themselves the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca (ASARO), will be displayed at the Fowler Museum from July 20–Dec. 7, 2008 in the exhibition La tinta grita/The Ink Shouts: The Art of Social Resistance in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The bold designs and cleverly worded messages of the ASARO artists evoke a Mexican history of portraying social themes graphically, in the tradition of José Guadalupe Posada, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and Francisco Toledo. The ASARO artists remain anonymous both to avoid persecution and to emphasize that it’s the causes they voice through their art collectively that are important, not their individual identities. The ASARO manifesto states, “Our mission is to take our artistic expression to the streets, to popular spaces, to raise consciousness about the social reality of the modern form of oppression that our people face.”

Some of the prints reference Oaxaca state Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, who is blamed for initiating the acts of repression that led to months of violent street demonstrations pitting the APPO against city and state police. Several works portray famed Mexican revolutionaries like Emiliano Zapata, while some depict or are inspired by recent events.

Exhibition Credits

La Tinta Grita/The Ink Shouts is curated by John Pohl, curator of the arts of the Americas at the Fowler Museum, and Kevin McCloskey, a professor in the department of communication design at Kutztown University, Pennsylvania.

The stenciled works in this exhibition are loaned from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

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