© 2018 victoriadelgadillo

Festivity, 1996

Victoria’s description on this print for the Glasgow Print Studio Collection:

I am a Chicana artist that was born in Southern California,  USA, 1951. Self-identifying as a Chicana is a political stance, in that I am of Mexican descent, born in the United States, but I am not comfortable saying I am Mexican-American, the term that my government uses to identify someone like me.

At one point in the history of the conquest of the Americas, the area where I was born was Mexico. If you visit California, you will see that Mexico continues its presence here—in the names of the towns and streets, the prominent percent of people living here, Spanish spoken everywhere, but especially in the cuisine and Mexican traditions.

From 1969-1973, I attended the University of California, San Diego to study English Literature and Video making. After graduating, I could not afford an art studio and migrated north, to ELA to partake in a large growing community of Chicano artists that were forming.

Since 1979, I have been a part of a print studio collective in East Los Angeles (ELA) called Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG), founded in 1973.  SHG is an organization rooted in the Chicano community that intersects print art with social justice, with the ultimate goal of engendering new print artists. They also partner with art spaces/museums in the US and internationally to exchange cultural ideas and artistic expressions.  At Self Help, I studied printing though mentorship and professional print making classes.

One of the important cultural works that the SHG collective has developed is a platform for a community and family peaceful celebration that marks an annual time when the living and the deceased are as one. It features the importance of living together. This is a traditional Mesoamerican blend of pre-Columbian rituals and Catholic traditions called El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

In the 1990s there were many reasons to find outlets for a united community: the Los Angeles Riots, excessive Police brutality with no-tolerance laws, historical gang truces, the CIA involved cocaine trafficking into low income areas of Los Angeles, and Proposition 187, a discriminatory law against undocumented immigrants of Hispanic and Asian origin that required any person employed by the government to monitor immigrants and report their suspicions to the police.

El Día de los Muertos, brought everyone together to quietly reflect in unity about our deceased, living and extended families.  Over an artistic altar of photographs, decorations and food; shared story telling honored every beloved deceased family member, friend and pet.

My print Festivity features my friend Marco Trejo (now on the other side) and my sister Elizabeth Delgadillo Merfeld (still on this side) with their faces painted in the traditional skeleton motif.  This is not meant as a scary matter, we are purposefully celebrating all the levels of the living experience, by mocking and accepting death. We are all part of the beautiful earthly transition, just like the plants, the animals and all of nature.  This celebration has become a national event all over the Americas.

Festivity is a silk screen mono-print, also an invention started at Self Help Graphics & Art.  The drawn image placed under the screen, allows the artist to transfer the image to the screen with silk screen inks and brush.  Usually it is a 15 minute only process, the inks must remain wet in order to be pushed onto the paper with the squeegee. I used liquid screen blocker applied with a brush, which gave me a longer image transfer time. After my image was transferred we poured a good amount of black paint at the top of the screen and pulled it down with the squeegee to fill in all the areas that had not been blocked.  A second ghost print can be made at this point, but I only made the one pass. I was quite content with the Andy Warholesk photographic pop-art quality it has.

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