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Chicano Civil Rights Movement: Amalia Mesa-Bains

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Amalia Mesa-Bains is a Chicana feminist and cultural activist that grew up during the socially and politically charged Chicano Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s through 1980s. The Chicano Civil Rights Movement was a movement of Mexican-Americans that wanted to uphold their bi-cultural identity as both Mexican and American, and increase their rights. In addition, it upheld the existence of indigenous Mexican traditions, and challenged Anglo-assimilation. Chicanos worked to create their own nationalist schemes as a group, and define their own histories and origins. Nonetheless, the movement covered everything from labor conditions to political representation to immigration rights. Thus, Mesa-Bains described her own childhood as one full …show more content…
These are the same traditions that are threatened by the dominant Anglo-culture. Mesa-Bains describes her own work as a persistent process of critical intervention in the face of colonial domination of family history and the cultural continuity of Chicanos (Mesa-Bains, 1995). She writes of giving both assistance and voice to her Chicano/a community, that has been deprived of representation in institutional histories, and the right to make its own documented histories. Therefore, by centering Chicano/a cultural, familial, and spiritual practices in her art, Mesa-Bains remakes a new history of the feminine position. Particularly, she is recording a history of the Chicana woman. Overall, this view unites the authenticity of the worries and fruits of the bicultural reality that Chicanos occupy, neither fully American nor fully …show more content…
It is a mixed media installation that includes various decorative items, mirrors, fabric, plywood, and framed items. Also, there are family pictures, lace fans, movie stills, flowers, and glitter. Mesa-Bains describes the ofrenda as an offering to Dolores del Rio, a popular Mexican actress. Del Rio was a Mexican actress that in the 20s and 30s fell prey to being stereotyped as an “exotic” and “foreign” beauty. She was heralded as beautiful by both Mexican and American popular audiences, and seen as a symbol of popular beauty. In the artist statement for this piece, Mesa-Bains writes of using the objects on the altar to symbolize del Rio’s glamour, elegance, and heart (Mesa-Bains, 1984). She also writes of how del Rio helped to empower other Chicanos whom faced dominant standards of beauty that were overwhelmingly Anglo-centric. She has described del Rio as a female pioneer who broke through barriers while at the same time preserving her Chicana identity and “feminine

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