Estampas de la Raza: Contemporary Prints from the Romo Collection and Royal Chicano Air Force celebrates the bold, colorful work of artists reflecting on the experience of being Mexican and American in the United States, and though the show is built around individual interpretations of universal themes such as identity, struggle, tradition, and memory, many of the artists in the exhibition also built their prints and practices around ideas of collaboration and community.

One of the most important ways that these collaborative relationships took shape was through the role of three community-based print workshops that provided the space for many of the screenprints in the show to be created: Self Help Graphics & Art in East Los Angeles; Modern Multiples, also in East Los Angeles; and Coronado Studio in Austin, Texas. Founded at different times in different locations, these workshops were and continue to be an integral part of the diverse communities they serve, and through their programs and shared creation spaces, their support for Latinx and Chicanx art and artists has uplifted an art form traditionally marginalized by the larger art world. Artists throughout the Estampas exhibition have learned from and taught one another in these spaces, and worked together to pull prints, collaborate on and experiment with artistic ideas, and create art in the activist tradition of the Chicano Movement.

The most influential of these workshops was Self Help Graphics & Art and its associated atelier project, which provided more individualized mentorship and support. Founded during the height of the Chicano Movement, Franciscan nun and artist Sister Karen Boccalero and queer Mexican artists Carlos Bueno and Antonio Ibañez worked together to create a community art space in a building owned by the Catholic diocese in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Their guiding mission exemplifies what these spaces sought to do for the diverse artists in their neighborhood and beyond: “to foster and encourage the empowerment of local Chicano/Latino artists; to project Chicano/Latino art to all audiences through its programs and services; to promote the cultural heritage and contributions of Chicano art and artists to the contemporary American experience.”(1) To achieve this mission, Self Help Graphics provided access to the art supplies, equipment, and resources to learn about, make, and exhibit prints and created larger community art and culture programs like the Barrio Mobile Art Studio and an ongoing Día de los Muertos celebration.

Building on the tradition and services provided at Self Help Graphics, master printer Richard Duardo (whose Pop-inflected work is featured throughout the Estampas exhibition) founded Modern Multiples in Los Angeles. Duardo championed the work of emerging artists and the workshop provided ways for artists and community members to work with master printers throughout the artistic process.

Coronado Studio was founded by printmaker Sam Coronado (who also has multiple works included throughout the exhibition). Inspired by what he had seen at Self Help Graphics, Coronado began printing works for artists and businesses, and founded a non-profit artist-in-residence program known as Serie Project. Through these spaces, he hoped to promote and exhibit the work of Latinx artists and maintain a space to affordably print and sell their work.

The legacies of these workshops and their wide-ranging support can be felt throughout the exhibition and in the collaborative print shop tradition that continues today in places like the local Malaquias Montoya and Carlos Francisco Jackson-founded TANA (Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer) in Woodland, and many other community arts organizations. Keep an eye out for the print shop logos pressed into the bottom of different prints in the exhibition to see the work from these shops in action!

For a wider discussion on Latinx print workshops and the history of Self Help Graphics, please consult Tatiana Reinoza and Karen Mary Davalos’s recent edited volume Self Help Graphics at Fifty: A Cornerstone of Latinx Art and Collaborative Printmaking (2023) and its extensive bibliography on scholarship around printmaking in the United States, available in the Museum Store. Tatiana Reinoza will be speaking at the Crocker on September 9 at 3 PM. Register for this captivating conversation here.

Estampas de la Raza is on view at the Crocker now until October 1.

1. Kristen Guzmán, Self Help Graphics & Art: Art in the Heart of East Los Angeles (Los Angeles: UCLA. Chicano Studies Research Center, 2005), 6.

Image Credits in order of appearance:
Artemio Rodriguez (Mexican, born Tacámbaro, Michoacán, Mexico, 1972), Mickey Muerto, 2005. Screenprint, 45 x 30 ¾ in. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Harriett and Ricardo Romo, 2009.79. © Artemio Rodriguez