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Nuestras Américas An Exploration of Expressive Cultures in Latina and Latino America


One facet of Latina/o expressive cultures is the idea of resistance in many forms. Resistance to mainstream pressure to conform is part of the message illustrated by Esther Hernandez’s iconic Libertad (2000). In this artwork the artist expresses her liberty to proclaim her own self-identity. In like manner, marginalized youths who customized their cars into a form of moving art known as lowriders also created their own sense of identity and affirmations that gave them meaning and worth. An under-valued subject of surveillance becomes a valued object of display.

Etching by Esther Hernandez
Little Gold Man
Silkscreen Print by Diane Gamboa

There is resistance in the edgy angst reflected in artist Diane Gamboa’s Little Gold Man (1990), influenced by her involvement in the punk scene and other communities left out of the mainstream. Young Anglo audiences loved the rock rhythms of the 1960s Chicano music groups Cannibal and the Headhunters, The Premieres and The Mixtures, all East L.A. garage bands. These Chicano rock groups persisted in the face of social discrimination common to all people of color.

From the Self-Help Graphics & Art Archives, Ester Hernandez Graphics Collection, and the Eddie Davis West Coast East Side Sound Archives. Special Research Collections, UCSB Library.