This master’s project addresses the relationship between the Mexican roots of the author and her personal artistic expression. Growing up in México, the author was greatly influenced by the artistic talent of her father, as well as the work of many iconic Mexican artists. From a very early age she recognized how the political climate surrounding the Mexican Revolution and the visual arts complimented each other. The murals of Diego Rivera (1886-1959) are evidence of the fusion of art and a visual depiction of the history of México. This exposure helped her appreciate the process of defining cultural identity through art (Goldman 101).
Art has been a venue for political statement throughout the history of the Mexican Republic. The complex history resulting from on-going political clashes and cultural contradictions has defined the Mexican persona. A collision between art and the Mexican revolution stimulated a climate for political change. The printmakers of the nineteenth century produced artwork that combined a search for personal identity with messages of popular discontent (Haight 1). The printmaker, José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) exemplified how popular Mexican artistic elements were able to become a vehicle for conveying a message of social protest.
Posada was one of the most important contributors to the type of illustrations used as political weapons against government oppression and public apathy during the period of the Mexican Revolution. His prints had an enormous impact on marginalized Mexicans. His illustrations promoted the sympathy needed to amass social support and active participation during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).
The Mexican Revolution was an armed struggle fought against the 30-year-long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. In those days México was characterized by immense poverty and inequality. It was even more pronounced than today. During the Díaz regime, the country began to expand economic growth. Industry and foreign investment were dedicated to building the infrastructure of the country; however, all efforts were centralized to benefit the ruling upper class. The entire politico-economic structure was concentrated in the hands of the minority elite. Most Mexicans were living in misery, under political repression without the possibility of building a better life for themselves (Hamnett 188).
This project examines the historical context necessary for understanding how the images created by José Guadalupe Posada became a source for stimulating nationalistic sentiment. It views mestizaje as a source for national identity. It explores how the people of México created their cultural identity by reinventing Mexican history through art. The work of Posada and his followers are used of as example of how art can have contemporary significance as a form of political expression. The author also reflects on her own art work as a representational fusion of the cultural background and personal experience defining her as a Mexican artist. The subject matter is past and current events that have influenced human thought. Even though the author’s prints are an expression of her own inner thoughts, they could be viewed as a reflection of the collective Mexican experience.
Pickett, G. (2009). Art as a Venue for Political Commentary: The Modern Mexican Printmaker and Social Consciousness (Master’s thesis). Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.