AMADO M. PEÑA: My name is Amado M. Peña, Jr., and I was born in Laredo, Texas in 1943 and currently make my home in Nambé, New Mexico, that’s out of Santa Fe, where I have a ranch, and I have my work-in studio. The work that you see here is entitled “Mestizo.” Mestizo is a term that I became familiar with back in the late ‘60s. I was attending graduate school, and we were in the middle of what some people call the Chicano Revolution. As a student, we were very much involved with trying to portray imagery that had to do with what was currently going on in the United States, which was pretty much brought out by the farm workers strike in California, and it kind of trickled down into Texas.
The work is done in a serigraph medium, which is sometimes called silk screen. All the colors that you see on the print are actually hand cut with a stencil that is then applied to a screen. The ink is then squeegeed through the screen on to portray the different images. The main theme of the print has to do with the tri-culture as we know it, the mixture of the indigenous and the Spanish to give us what would currently be referred to as a Mexican or Latino, so it’s a mixture of three different cultures. This is what I tried to depict in the piece. It is to represent the three cultures and to give tribute to the people. It’s part of a major series of works that I did back then.
I was one of the very first screen printers in Texas. There was a lot done in California, and it slowly finally trickled down into Texas, but my work was one of the first to be represented in this particular medium, so there is a body of approximately 40 or 50 pieces that kind of represent that period of time.
Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and G Streets, NW)
In the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today. Many artists came of age during the civil rights, labor, anti-war, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements and channeled the period’s social activism into assertive aesthetic statements that announced a new political and cultural consciousness among people of Mexican descent in the United States. ¡Printing the Revolution! explores the rise of Chicano graphics within these early social movements and the ways in which Chicanx artists since then have advanced innovative printmaking practices attuned to social justice.
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge.