Companeros and Partners: The CARA Project
Paper presented at the conference Museums and Communities, held at the International Center of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, March 21-23, 1990, and sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Smithsonian.
Composing this essay was not easy - not that we should have expected anything connected to the CARA (Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation) project to be easy. We realized that to write an essay that would be the product of a true partnership - in the spirit of the project - and would also respect the complexity and richness of what was often a difficult and fragmented process of exhibition development, we would have to present a kind of case study of a work in progress. In it we would have to include our thoughts and feelings as well as those of some of our partners, or companeros, in the project. The development of the CARA exhibition has been as much a process of achieving consensus as it has been an ongoing process of negotiation, beginning with the first proposal in 1983 and ending with the closing of the exhibition at its last venue in 1994.
The Wight Art Gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the CARA National Advisory Council organized Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965-85, an interpretive exhibition of work from the Chicano art movement. The planning process represented an attempt to document and analyze, in the most inclusive manner possible, the roots and complexities of the most recent, significant and unified development of Mexican art and culture in the - Chicano art. The advisory group determined that the basic assumption of the project would be that there is a distinct art that arose from the dynamic, interdependent relationship between El Movimiento (the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960's and 1970's) and a significant segment of the expressive community of Americans of Mexican descent, and that this art was identified by its creators and participants as Chicano. (p. 262-263)