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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Framing Chicana Agency in 1980s Los Angeles Punk: The Photography of Patssi Valdez


Patssi Valdez, a contemporary Chicana artist best recognized as a performance artist and painter, produced an extensive body of photographic artworks during the 1980s that documented her creativity and marked a crucial period of artistic development in her career. The multimedia approach and distinctive use of color in these artworks, a series of bold photographic portraits, strongly resonate with punk aesthetics. Five artworks were visually analyzed and contextualized by looking at the history of Los Angeles punk rock and design elements of early punk zines. This research project utilizes several digital sources that encapsulate Valdez’s reflections on her art practice. Valdez’s use of self-fashioning as an artistic praxis parallels punk’s Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and rasquache sensibilities, which visually indexes the convergence of punk and Chicano art. This research project sheds light on an understudied area of Valdez’s art practice, discusses the influence of Chicanas on early Los Angeles punk, and aims to provide an entry point for future research into Valdez’s photography.

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