'Calli' exhibit opens at Oakland Museum honoring Chicano movement, celebrating Mexican Americans

Julian Glover Image
Saturday, June 15, 2024
'Calli' exhibit opens at Oakland Museum honoring Chicano movement
A new exhibit at the Oakland Museum celebrates the Chicano movement and cultural appreciation of Mexican Americans.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A new exhibit now open at the Oakland Museum celebrates the Chicano movement. It was a push for fair treatment, equal opportunity, civil rights and cultural appreciation of Mexican Americans and art played a key part in it.

"Visitors can expect to be wooed away by political topics, but also appreciate and feel pride in Chicano history," said Gilda Posada, curator of the exhibition Calli: The Art of Xicanx Peoples.

Organizers opted to use Xicanx instead of Chicano in a nod to gender inclusivity and to celebrate the contributions of queer people who contributed to the movement but aren't often acknowledged.

"The poster was really important in the Chicano movement. It allowed these ideas to be in multiple spaces all at once," said Posada.

The wall of screen prints and posters is as bold and bright as the people who made them and punctuate the enduring theme of the exhibit: who is home and what is home in America?

MORE: Cesar Chavez legacy leads back to lessons learned in San Jose

Cesar Chavez learned how to organize labor theory and the non-violent philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi at a church in East San Jose.

Yolanda Lopez's seminal 1981 work "Who's the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim?" poses that question to the audience directly.

"It's speaking back to this idea like you're not from this country, you're not from this land," said Posada. "Oftentimes, we get called aliens, like we're not even from this earth. She's saying, Actually, we're not aliens. You're the one who came here. We've been here as a people."

The exhibition puts historic and contemporary works in conversation, unafraid of confronting the issues of the moment like the movement it represents from not that long ago.

A stunning installation running dozens of feet wide by artists Consuelo Jimenez Underwood captivates the eye and sparks a conversation about migration.

MORE: Politicians attend dedication ceremony for San Francisco's Mexican Museum

It pieces together California's complex history of westward expansion spurred by the gold and incorporates nods to the indigenous peoples who continue to call California home, and a striking pair of silhouettes represents a mother and child crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

"la Botanical del Barrio" offers visitors a rolling remedies cart and encourages the community to contribute their own knowledge.

"Over time, this wall will be full of remedies that visitors can then gain insight and share with one another," said Posada.

MORE: Japanese prints capturing country's evolution come to life at SF's Legion of Honor exhibit

A new exhibit opening at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco links an art form dating back to the era of Samurai to popular modern art, like anime.

The exhibition also features several works by Joey Terrill that document the AIDS epidemic in the Chicano community and his firsthand fight in uncertain times.

"His still life series...always focuses on the table," said Posada. "Showing you the intimacy of home, once again, inviting people into the private in order to talk about a larger issue that affects our larger community."

So many of the issues highlighted in the exhibit are still with us, a reminder of the work left to do to create a more inclusive future.

"There's no stopping someone from being who they are, and celebrating who they are," said Posada. "If anything, this exhibition is what happens when you allow people to flourish."

The exhibit is now open to the public and you have plenty of time to check it out. It runs until January 2025.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live