To Tame a Wild Tongue: Art after Chicanismo (Postponed)

Pool Party
John Valadez
Pool Party
1986, oil on canvas, 107 x 69 in. (271.8 x 175.3 cm). Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Gift of the Cheech Marin Collection, 2016.31 ©John Valadez.

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“…And I think, how do you tame a wild tongue, train it to be quiet, how do you bridle and saddle it? How do you make it lie down? … Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out.”

- Gloria Anzaldúa, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987)

To Tame a Wild Tongue: Art after Chicanismo brings together more than 25 artists, all of whom explore aspects of the Mexican American experience. Drawn exclusively from the Museum’s holdings and filling the Museum’s Farrell, and Wortz galleries, this exhibition includes painting, sculpture, and installation, taking the Chicano Art Movement as a point of departure. The politically and culturally inspired movement was created by Mexican American artists during the counterculture revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Heavily influenced by the iconography of revolutionary leaders, pre-Colonial art, Mexican religious icons, and socio-political issues, the movement resisted and challenged dominant social norms and stereotypes to move towards cultural autonomy. Against this backdrop of social and cultural activism, the exhibition features works from the 1980s to our current moment, interrogating the reverberations of the post-Chicano moment with special attention paid to our transnational region.

To Tame a Wild Tongue borrows its title from Gloria Anzaldúa’s pivotal text that underscores language as a source of both cultural identity and cultural hybridity. Taking a nod from Anzaldúa’s text, the exhibition foregrounds the cultural hybridity that exists within a transborder context, without relying on identity alone as the Chicano Movement did. Instead, the artists in this exhibition, who may or may not identify as Chicano/a/x, explore conceptual processes linked to the social, cultural, and political issues related to Mexican Americans living in the United States or to those living and making work on either side of the border. Split into five thematic sections, the exhibition examines ideas of activism, labor, rasquachismo, domesticana, and the border. Questioning what it means to create political and socially oriented work outside of the label of Chicano/a/x, many artists breach ethnic, cultural, and class barriers, as well as the physical borders that shape an urban, multicultural experience.