Latinx printmaking and the Instituto Gráfico de Chicago
While many Latinx artists and collectives such as Jose Guadalupe Posada, Taller de Gráfica Popular, and Elizabeth Catlett had great contributions and influence in printmaking, their presence was and is excluded from most dialogues, exhibitions, or events in the US.
Instituto Gráfico de Chicago, abbreviated as IGC, was established in 2010 in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago by a group of artists who aim to continue the Latino printmaking tradition. Committed to building community and promoting printmaking as a way of social activism, IGC hosts public workshops in the Midwest to inspire Latinx communities.
IGC promoted and continued Latinx printmaking, as well as the practice of utilizing art to inform communities about contemporary social and political issues through its unique public education platforms and art workshops.
Granbadolandia, IGC´s yearly three-day festival, provides the public with an affordable art opportunity to experience printmaking, access cultural resources, and engage in discussions regarding urgent social issues. Starting from 2013, Granbadolandia has attracted diverse populations within and outside of the LatinX community.
- Antonio Pazarán, co-founder and member of IGC, is an artist trained at Columbia College Chicago. He primarily works with wood blocks to create prints that challenge ideas that contain social menace and backward thinking. Mainly inspired by figures such as Posada, Catlett, Leopoldo Mendez, and Carlos Cortez, Pazarán incorporates his social and cultural surroundings into art, featuring topics that center around everyday life situations within his community.
- Another co-founder and member of IGC is Carlos Barberena de la Rocha, a self-taught artist specializing in relief prints to demonstrate the impacts of sociopolitical and environmental injustices in the Americas. His representative works shown at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) and Museo del Grabado ICPNA of Peru include “Mater Dolorosa,” which is translated as Grieving Mother. This print work features Liseth Dávila with a photo of Alvarito Conrado, her fifteen-year-old son, who joined a student protest to provide his peers with water and was fatally shot by a sniper. Created in solidarity with the Association of the Mothers of April, this work exposes the police and paramilitary brutality experienced by Nicaraguan civilians. Barberena’s works were exhibited in many other countries, including France, Spain, Central America, and Estonia.
Honoring Jose Guadalupe Posada’s legacy
During the first Grabadolandia at the National Museum of Mexican Art in 2013, the Instituto Gráfico de Chicago collaborated with over 30 local and international artists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Posada’s death. To continue the legacy of Posada’s contributions to Latin printmaking tradition, IGC organized a print portfolio titled “Posada Presente,” featuring artworks inspired by Posada’s works that responded to contemporary socio-political events.
The participating artists created prints based on the central question, “what satirical, social injustice, political, or popular cultural event would Posada respond to through his work if he were alive today?” The portfolio consists of relief prints created in Posada’s spirit, including “Hierba Mala Nunca Muere” by Edith Chávez, “Gordo Político” by Daniel Amora, and “In Posada’s Spirit” by René Arceo.
Some of the works in “Posada Presente” are currently on display in the exhibition, titled “Be a Good Neighbor,” taking place at the Denison Museum of Burke Gallery from August 29 to December 9, 2022. This showing provides an insight into how historical figures such as Posada have left a lasting impact on many contemporary artists, including the members of the IGC.