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In the Valleys: Las Mujeres Muralistas del Valle and Chicana Art in the San Joaquin Valley


Three years ago I found my mother’s name in a book about muralism throughout California. Not knowing my mother as a “public” artist, I pursued an intimate investigation on Chicana artists in public vs. alternative spaces. This thesis explores the process of making a short documentary film, that focused on two artists Cecilia Aranaydo and Silvia Figueroa Garcia (my mother) from an early Chicana art collective in the San Joaquin Valley called Las Mujeres Muralistas del Valle (1978). As we dig through the memories of constructing their only mural, which was whitewashed and destroyed shortly after its construction, we uncover what it means to be a Chicana artist in California's San Joaquin Valley. This research aims to develop an experiential lens in understanding Chicana Art by asking, when we’re dealing with histories of erasure and censorship, is a name in a book—representation—enough? Should art production merely be evaluated through the product, often losing the artist’s social and political location? A particular focus is posed on how and why the artists moved from public muralism to private crafting collective spaces, exploring connections to the rural and urban divide of the Central Valley and the artists’ connection to place, space and memory.

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