In 2006, the Mexican state of Oaxaca experienced seven months of social and political conflict that resulted in at least 18 deaths and the temporary occupation of Oaxaca City by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), a confederation of local citizens, teachers, union members and representatives of indigenous communities.
Strong-arm tactics used by city and state officials against APPO activists and other public demonstrators inspired a group of designers and artists, products of Oaxaca's acclaimed visual arts programs, to use the city walls as a canvas to convey their outrage over social injustice. A selection of more than 30 wood-block prints and stencils created by these artists, who call themselves the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca (ASARO), will be displayed at the Fowler Museum at UCLA from July 20 through Dec. 7 in the exhibition "La Tinta Grita/The Ink Shouts: The Art of Social Resistance in Oaxaca, Mexico."
The bold designs and cleverly worded messages of the ASARO artists evoke a Mexican history of portraying social themes graphically, in the tradition of Jos Guadalupe Posada, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jos Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and Francisco Toledo. The ASARO artists remain anonymous, both to avoid persecution and to emphasize that it is the causes they voice through their art collectively that are important, not their individual identities.
The ASARO manifesto states, "Our mission is to take our artistic expression to the streets, to popular spaces, to raise consciousness about the social reality of the modern form of oppression that our people face."
Some of the prints reference Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, governor of Oaxaca state, who is blamed for initiating the acts of repression that led to months of violent street demonstrations pitting the APPO against city and state police. Several works portray famed Mexican revolutionaries like Emiliano Zapata, while others depict or are inspired by recent events.
"La Tinta Grita/The Ink Shouts" is curated by John Pohl, curator of the arts of the Americas at the Fowler Museum, and Kevin McCloskey, a professor in the department of communication design at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
"La Tinta Grita/The Ink Shouts: The Art of Social Resistance in Oaxaca, Mexico" will be on view in the Fowler Museum's Goldenberg Galleria.
The Fowler is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The Fowler Museum, part of UCLA's School of the Arts and Architecture, is located in the north part of the UCLA campus. Admission is free. Parking is available for $8 in Lot 4. For more information, the public may call 310-825-4361 or visit www.fowler.ucla.edu