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New Book Features Rebellious Protest Art in Mexico

In Spring 2014, a new book was produced through a collaboration of faculty and students at the University of New Mexico. Getting Up for the People: The Visual Revolution of ASAR-OAXACA, published with Oakland-based PM Press, was co-authored by Dr. Suzanne Schadl, curator of Latin American collections at the University of New Mexico, and Michael Graham de la Rosa, a master's student in the Latin American Studies program. The book tells the story of the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca (ASARO) by remixing their own images and words with curatorial descriptions.

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ASARO is a contemporary Mexican artists' collective comprised of young art students and street artists. They employ multiple mediums including wood and linoleum block prints, large-scale graffiti murals, interventionist stencils, and wheat pastes. Public and academic interest in their work (as evidenced in exhibits and recent publications) is proof of their success in "getting up."

In 2006. ASARO formed as part of a broader social movement, part of which advocated for higher teachers' salaries and access to school supplies. They exercised extralegal means to "get up," displaying their artwork in public spaces. ASARO stands out for their revitalizing remix of collective social action with modern conventions in graffiti, traditional processes in Mexican printmaking, and contemporary communication through social networking.

Now they enjoy international recognition as well as state-sanctioned support for their artists' workshops. They use their notoriety to teach Oaxacan youth the importance of publicly expressing and exhibiting their perspectives on the visual landscape.

Reviewers have called Getting Up for the People "a significant contribution to the field of graphics artist history" (Dr. Theresa Ávila, art historian) and "timely and necessary for connecting the continuity of traditions embedded in Mexican art" (Dr. Tey Marianna Nunn, director and chief curator at the National Hispanic Cultural Center art museum).

The publication of the book coincides with two exhibitions of ASARO artwork: one on display at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) art museum, and one on display in the Herzstein Gallery at UNM's Zimmerman Library. Both are on display through Fall 2014. To learn more, read about The View from the Streets" at the NHCC and the "Mexican Concept of Death" at Zimmerman.

About the Contributors:

  • In addition to serving as curator of Latin American collections at UNM, Schadl also teaches Latin American Studies. As the LaEnergaia collections manager for a Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) grant, she explores digitally born archiving. She currently is the Rapporteur General in the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) and editor of the Resources for College Libraries' Spanish and Portuguese Literatures list.
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  • Mike Graham de La Rosa is a Mexican American street artist/activist, Spanish teacher, and curatorial intern working toward his master's degree in Latin American Studies. He is the recipient of a New Mexico Higher Education Department scholarship and a Latin American & Iberian Institute/Tinker Foundation award for his work on ASARO.

Image: Illustration drawn from book cover.

--Posted Monday, May 12, 2014.