•  Cultivating Creativity:
  •    The Arts and the Farm Workers' Movement During the 1960s and '70s

  •   Introduction: Art and the Movement


    drawing of worker holding sign by artist Pele deLappe

    Farm workers and the world of art? It may not seem to be a natural pairing, yet the migrant farm workers’ movement of the 1960s and ‘70s generated artistic symbols of such iconic power that they not only fixed a small struggling union’s (the United Farm Workers) plight in the American public consciousness, but also helped launch a new style of Chicano art. "La Causa" cultivated new styles of artistic expression by artists sympathetic to the struggles of people who had been marginalized. This creative outpouring ranged from indigenous folk art generated at the time by those in the movement -- theater, poster art, and biting political cartoons -- to fine art expressions in painting and photography.

    This exhibit starts by exploring two icons that helped launch the farm workers struggle: the United Farm Workers eagle/thunderbird logo and the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe so often carried in the marches or pilgrimages. Next we examine the performing arts that surrounded the movement, with specific emphasis on Teatro Campesino – The Farm Workers Theater. The farm workers´ underground newspaper, El Malcriado is featured in this exhibit because it was the medium of choice for many of the political cartoons and satirical illustrations that came out of the farm workers movement. Posters, graphics, and murals also served to educate the workers about the importance of union representation. Likewise, photography played a major role in telling the story to a wider audience, about those who worked under harsh and unfair conditions. Finally, we see the leader of the United Farm Workers himself, Cesar Chavez, now an icon and a symbol of the movement he helped start.

    Next Section
    Art and Artifacts from the Collections of the Labor Archives and Research Center

    Copyright © 2007 Labor Archives and Research Center | J. Paul Leonard Library | San Francisco State University
    Credits and Contacts | Last Updated January 17, 2006