BARBARA CARRASCO – CALIFORNIA ARTIST
IN HER OWN WORDS:
I decided to do politically conscious artwork when I was at UCLA. I became the first female editor of the Chicano newspaper on campus. There were a lot of issues that were brought to my attention and I was also illustrating the covers of the newspaper. The image of the Pregnant Woman and the Ball of Yarn was inspired by my reading of the forced sterilization in Puerto Rico of young women who had no knowledge that they were being sterilized. They were getting married and settling down to have children and then finding out that they were unable to have children because they had been sterilized. I was outraged by this injustice and so I did this image.
I heard Cesar Chavez speak on campus. And after I asked him if I could help him in any way. And his reaction was so positive. “Yes, of course. We need you. We need artists all the time.” So I didn’t
know it but I was going to start working with him right away and for fifteen years! And during those fifteen years I became very close with Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, and both of them were very inspirational. I created large mural banners for their conventions, for their political events, for community protests.
I think the celebration of Día de los Muertos is important to Chicanos because it goes back to our early ancestry in Mexico, it goes back to Pre-Columbian times. I wanted to take the whole traditional approach to Day of the Dead and switch it around to be personal, real personal. I had a solo show in Santa Monica and I called it Here Lies, Here
Lies. It was ten small coffins that were done on clay board and I asked ten individuals , some were artists, some were attorneys, some where teachers, to fill out a questionnaire about death. It was sort of a more contemporary look at Day of the Dead, asking people
to really look at death, the idea of how you are going to die, and how are you going to be remembered, what are some of the things that you want to take with you? What is your greatest fear about death? Then I actually did a portrait of them, with all of those items, and put the portrait next to their questionnaire