Number 40, Spring 2003

UCLA espouses guardianship of arts

The Latino cultural and civil rights movements of the 1960s and '70s are known today largely because writers and artists in the community recorded them.

The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, with occasional UC MEXUS support, is striving to keep the names and the work of important Chicano artists alive.

The issue of the arts and artists recently came under the spotlight in Latino Policy and Issues Brief, No. 6, April 2003, “Archiving the Latino Arts Before it is Too Late.” The Institute funded the report written by Rita González, a doctoral candidate and Arts Project coordinator at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

Only a small number of archives and special collections are devoted to documenting Latino arts, González writes. Those that do so, often work in isolation from one another.

As federal and foundation support of the arts continues declining, Latino arts preservation often focuses only on success stories, the report says. Whereas artists who work in obscurity are often a rich repository of contemporary artistic and cultural landscape.

Even institutions that maintain collections often do so in a haphazard way, experts say. Many arts organizations and individual holders of arts-related materials fail to recognize the historical value of their collections or neglect to archive – or even retain – their own exhibition catalogues, newsletters, fliers, and other documents.

UCLA has to some measure striven to address that issue.

The Chicano Cinema Recovery Project, a multi-year collaboration between the Research Center and UCLA Film and Television Archive is identifying, preserving, and making accessible independent Chicano and Latino filmmakers’ work. The research center also has launched A Ver: Revisioning Art History, a research and monograph series on the cultural, aesthetic, and historical contributions of Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and other U.S. Latino artists.

A third outreach program helps groups develop archival processes. The Chicano Studies Research Center: Arts Projects installs a streamlined record management system to make organizations more autonomous and enhance the transfer of records, if and when the organization decides to deposit their papers with a repository.

See www.sscnet.ucla.edu/csrc/ for all Policy Briefs.

U.S. Latino/Chicano arts collections

The Policy Briefs lists these U.S. websites for art museums, archives and collections emphasizing Latino or Chicano arts:

California Ethic and Multicultural Archive, UC Santa Barbara
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Smithsonian Archivos Virtuales
Stanford Department of Special Collections
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame
Latin American Art Museum
El Museo Mexicano/The Mexican Museum
Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
Mexic-Arte Museum
Museo de las Américas
El Museo Latino
National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico
The Studio Museum in Harlem