Chicanx Graphic Arts in Focus: Quiero Mis Queerce

Artist and activist Julio Salgado challenges a traditional rite of passage

Media - 2020.37.6 - SAAM-2020.37.6_1 - 138892
Julio Salgado, Quiero Mis Queerce, 2014, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Lichtenberg Family Foundation, 2020.37.6, © 2020, Julio Salgado

SAAM’s landmark exhibition, ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now, explores how Chicanx artists have linked innovative printmaking practices with social justice. This series presents a closer look at artworks in the exhibition.

¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now offers an expanded view of American art and the history of graphic arts, featuring previously marginalized voices from Chicano art, including women and LGBTQ+ individuals. The rise of the Chicano movement in the 1960s and 1970s marked a completely new way of being a person of Mexican descent in the United States. It was also a shared effort to build community, enact political change, and reimagine U.S. identity, history, and culture. However, the Chicano movement was never static; envisioning and defining Chicano culture remains a fluid process to this day. Chicana and LGBTQ+ artists have pushed back against patriarchal and heteronormative tendencies that were present in the country and within the movement itself.

Self-identified queer activist and artist Julio Salgado explores a traditional rite-of-passage in his double self-portrait Quiero Mis Queerce, which features a figure wearing a tuxedo and another donning eye shadow, dangling earrings, and a quinceañera-style dress that does not hide their bodily hair. Inspired by Frida Kahlo’s well-known painting Las Dos Fridas (1939), Salgado employs a similar duality to reflect on his challenges as a gay teen hiding his femininity. As a young man, Salgado wanted a fifteenth-birthday celebration, or quinceañera, a traditional coming-out ceremony reserved for young women. When the artist turned thirty, he created this image, he said, to “honor the little boy who didn’t get a quinceañera.”

This is the second in a series of blog posts that take a closer look at artworks in ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now.