Visual Voices: Chicana Identity Construction in the Art Classroom
The purpose of this study is to examine the formation of Chicana artist identity, through previously collected oral histories of self-identifying Chicana/o artists and educators. Their identity is both inherently and actively created, and used to shape culturally efficacious classroom practices, which focus on promoting agency and activism among students. Examples most commonly used in the curricula and praxis are LatCrit and decolonial lenses that interweave counter narratives which engage sociopolitical interactions. As such, I analyze the ways in which identities among Valderas, Ramirez, Hinojosa, Lomas Garza, Barraza, and I have created. I also aim to understand the re-working of structures defining art, including historical movements, claims to techniques, and hegemonic gazes, which impart values of visual expressions that presuppose universality. Moreover, I mark the recognition of non-ownership because it breaks culturally dominant meta-narratives and myths, apprehending visual art as a critical methodology identifying and contesting oppression and dominance. I reflect on the ways in which artist educators reshape curricula to transform spaces for constructing Chicana/o identity using tools, as I critically interrogate implications of standardized texts and practices levied against Latinas. When artist educators employ counter narratives, students consciously navigate their creative spaces. Predicated on clear, strong, and powerful visual voices, Chicana artists express a Chicana self. As such, Chicana art and identity flourishes resulting in the creation of supportive activist networks and safe spaces.
As a positioned subject and as one whose own history and work is included in the study, I build on and amplify observations and interpretations founded on the lived experiences and creations of Chicana/o artists as a research approach. My positionality serves as a narrative tool, defining the issues discussed in terms of the theoretical frameworks, particularly Delgado Bernal's notion of cultural intuition.