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    Contructing Identit... Photo 1213_gpr Photo 1212_gpr Photo 1216_gpr Photo 1214_gpr

    **Constructing Identity** One of the main objectives of Self Help Graphics & Art has been to support the Mexican American and Latinx communities in Los Angeles. Printmakers working at the studio during the 1980s and 1990s contended with a complex historical heritage. It ranged from the continuing struggle for social justice, which reached a highpoint in the 1960s with the Chicano Movement for civil rights, to the artistic inspiration they found in past and present Mexico, Central America, Europe, and the United States. These artists balanced a wide range of objectives that included developing distinctive artistic styles, exploring personal and cultural subject matter, establishing their place in their local communities, and achieving visibility in the national art scene. Self Help became a collaborative laboratory where all these factors were critically weighed, conceptually combined, and aesthetically defined. Collectively, these prints reflect cultural identities that are complex, at times even contradictory, but most often fluid, adaptable, and inclusive.

    **La construcción de la identidad** Uno de los principales objetivos de Self Help Graphics & Art ha sido apoyar a las comunidades mexicano-estadounidense y latinx de Los Ángeles. Los grabadores que trabajaron en el estudio durante las décadas de 1980 y 1990 se enfrentaron a un complejo legado histórico. Este incluía tanto la lucha por la justicia social, la que alcanzó un punto álgido en los años 60 con el Movimiento chicano por los derechos civiles, como la conexión con el pasado y el presente de México, Centroamérica, Europa y los Estados Unidos, vistos como fuentes de inspiración cultural. Estos artistas balancearon una amplia variedad de objetivos, incluyendo crear estilos artísticos distintivos, explorar temáticas personales y culturales, establecerce como parte de sus comunidades locales y alcanzar una mayor visibilidad en la escena artística nacional. Self Help se convirtió en un laboratorio colaborativo donde éstos factores fueron críticamente evaluados, conceptualmente estructurados, y estéticamente definidos. En conjunto, estos grabados reflejan identidades culturales complejas, y a veces hasta contradictorias, pero en su mayoría cambiantes, adaptables e inclusivas.

    Victor Gastelum Torrance, California, 1964 – Long Beach, California, present *Dos Caras A.D.*, 1997 Screenprint Gift of Gilberto Cárdenas, 2017 As artists explored the many cultural elements bringing together the Mexican American and Latinx communities in Los Angeles, popular sports became a recurrent subject for its rich and recognizable imagery. Victor Gastelum often depicts Mexican professional wrestling, or *lucha libre*, a sport combining athletics with entertainment that he watched on television as a child. He considers it a part of Mexican popular culture that achieved international prominence but rarely receives credit. Here Gastelum portrays famous wrestler Dos Caras wearing his distinctive mask bearing a two-headed eagle.

    Gronk [Glugio Nicandro] Los Angeles, California, 1954 – present *Dumbbell* [*Pesa*], 1992 Screenprint Gift of Gilberto Cárdenas, 2017 Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Gronk consistently defies the idea of what it means to be a Chicano artist. In 1974, he formed the avant-garde group Asco—Spanish for “disgust”— with Patssi Valdez, William Herrón III, and Harry Gamboa, Jr. That same year, the group performed at Self Help’s annual Day of the Dead procession, wearing atypical costumes that expanded the traditional interpretation of the holiday. For this print, he layered colored ink to the point of indecipherability. Only looking carefully can the viewer make out skulls, leaves, and lips through the graffiti-like chaos.

    Samuel Baray Los Angeles, California, 1938 – present *Advenimiento de Primavera* [*Coming of Spring*], 1990 Screenprint Gift of Gilberto Cárdenas, 2017