edited by Jennifer A. Gonzalez, C. Ondine Chavoya, Chon Noriega, and Terezita Romo. Duke University Press, February 2019. 552 p. ill. ISBN 9781478003007 (pbk), $32.95.
Reviewed May 2019
Clayton C. Kirking, Independent Library Consultant, New York, N.Y. firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicano and Chicana Art is a substantial volume, covering the literature of the movimiento during a period of approximately forty years. The scope offered is far beyond a survey, compiled by four recognized authorities. The carefully planned book is divided into six parts. Topics range from the first “Definitions and Debates” where the beginnings and trajectory of the movement are established, through “Bodily Aesthetics”, and “Critical Reception”. Each part is thoughtfully introduced by one of the editors and culminates in a bibliography of Further Reading.
The texts included have been extracted from a broad number of sources and formats: journal and periodical articles, exhibition catalogs, monographs, newspapers, and even a transcribed NPR segment. Considering these parameters, the book would best be considered as an important acquisition for academic or specialized subject area collections, at any level.
As the content is composed of work from a large number of sources, the writing varies widely. As well, the language of art history has changed and developed during the years covered. This in itself provides a window into an art historical landscape that may not look radically different than it did in 1975, but the terms used to describe it are often starkly changed. The editorial introductions to each part serve to unite the volume and unify the production into an impressive resource.
There are numerous black and white illustrations throughout the text. These are generally instructive, yet provide only a visual clue to the production of the artists of the movimiento. Chicano and Chicana Art, however, is by design a text-based resource, and is not intended to provide full-color reproductions of the rich body of work represented by these texts. It is, effectively, a lexicon that will point to those images.
The body of literature that documents, critiques, contextualizes and illuminates the subject of Chicano and Chicana art is extensive, as the current volume demonstrates. Within that sphere, however, it is challenging to conduct a comparative literature search, as the subject headings used are somewhat ambiguous: Mexican American art, Mexican American women and Chicano Movement. As you sift through these, the true bibliography is slow to emerge. The current volume makes an important corrective step toward improving accessibility.
The volume is footnoted throughout, with important bibliographies, a useful glossary, and a welcome index. It is available in a library cloth binding, and as an e-book.