Friday, October 12, 2007

Mapping the Mission: Between Place and Memory in San Francisco's Latina/o Arts Community

DC has been great absolutely great. I spoke in two of Ana Patricia's classes yesterday and almost lost my voice from so much beautiful central american diasporic poetic dialogue. Did you know the dominant Latino Group in DC is Salvadorans? Pupusa-Eaters heaven! But tomorrow is the day. 8am east coast time this neardy hotness is going down! MC

The American Studies Association

Scheduled Time: Sat, Oct 13 - 8:00am - 9:45am Building/Room: Philadelphia Marriott / Room 415

Session Participants:
Session Organizer: Cary Cordova (Dickinson College (PA))
Chair: Cary Cordova (Dickinson College (PA))
Panelist: Yolanda Lopez (Artist)
Panelist: Maya Chinchilla (San Francisco State University (CA))
Panelist: John Leaños (Arizona State University (AZ))
Panelist: Ana Patricia Rodriguez (University of Maryland, College Park (MD))
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To map San Francisco’s Mission District is to chart the meaning of “America Aquí.” As a pivotal site for Chicano and Latino civil rights community organizing since the 1960s, the neighborhood has served as a locus for generations of activists and artists from all parts of the Americas. As the birthplace of the widely known Galería de la Raza, the Mexican Museum, and the Mission Cultural Center, the aesthetics of the Mission have had a wide-reaching impact. Over several decades, the Mission arts scene has produced a vast array of posters, paintings, murals, films, music, multimedia projects, and performance. In the late 1990s, the rapidity of gentrification in the Mission spurred a wave of cultural production to preserve, commemorate, and historicize the meaning of the neighborhood. This roundtable panel will bring together a multigenerational mix of artists and scholars inspired by the Mission in their writing, thinking, aesthetics, activism, and practice.

All of the panelists are engaged in the use of diverse media and technologies to capture the spirit of a community in flux, but also to advocate for social change: panelist Yolanda Lopez is famous for her iconic contributions to Chicano art, from her “Self-portrait of the artist as the Virgin de Guadalupe,” to her contemporary digital murals series that mocks the trite understatement, “Women’s Work is Never Done”; panelist Rio Yañez, Lopez’s son, uses photography and animation to document the history and people of the Mission in a surreal, or “Ghetto-lomography” fashion; panelist John Jota Leaños embodies the definition of provocateur with his performances and multimedia presentations, frequently targeting the contemporary culture of surveillance and violence; panelist Maya Chinchilla is a spoken word artist and filmmaker whose work focuses on female empowerment through the arts; and both panelists Ana Patricia Rodriguez and Cary Cordova have dedicated their scholarship to documenting the many forms and twists of transnational Latino cultural production.

Our objective is to meditate on the meaning of the Mission, to explore the themes and ties that penetrate our works, and to contemplate how our creative and intellectual explorations can evolve in a place increasingly scarred by stories of physical and symbolic displacement. By bringing together different generations of scholars and artists, we will contextualize change over time, and illustrate the diverse perspectives, technologies, and methods that cross-pollinate in our work. We will contemplate the mainstream art world’s relatively recent cultivation of a “Mission School,” which both tends to displace the long trajectory of arts practices in the Mission, as well as accords the mantle of creativity to predominantly non-Latino artists. To talk about the history of art in the Mission opens the door to discussing the state of Latino and American art in the United States and the construction of Latinidad. This is a panel on the cross-currents between art and scholarship, between activism and aesthetics, between place and memory, and between the United States and the Americas.

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