RUPERT GARCÍA – CALIFORNIA ARTIST
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
I was in Indochina from 1965 to 1966, at a secret base near Laos. Why were so many of us [Chicanos] there? The answer is simple and that is that working class kids joined the army, air force, etc. to get a job!
When I came home I was very frightened because I knew that many in the US were protesting against the war in Vietnam. So I came home not wearing my uniform for fear that I would be accosted. So in this context, I’m a young guy trying to figure things
out. I’m studying painting and taking classes at San Francisco State. And when the Chicanismo came forth and I embraced, I began to question myself as an artist. Who is an artist? What is an artist supposed to do and for whom?
The strike at school [San Francisco State] and then the Chicano thrust of cultural nationalism, brought to my mind another way of looking at art. And that had to do with struggle, and by that I mean, what can we do as Chicanos in particular, what can we do to underscore how we see the world, how we feel about it, how we think about it in visual terms.
A faculty person had just come back from Paris in ‘68 following an uprising of student and he talked about what the students were doing to support the strike and he mentioned posters, and that you could make many of them.
I had never made a silk screen in my life so I had to learn how to make them under duress. Because cops were looking around at us to make sure that we weren’t using chemicals to make bombs and that kind of stuff. So I learned how to make silkscreens on the sly at the art building. And that raised to me the idea of art for
the people. And that was important for me because I was reconsidering the myths I had learned about the fine artist. That you’re an elite and you’re beyond what most people understand about reality Well, the Chicano Movement was the opposite of this. It made you look at society, get involved with society and make images that were understandable by us the artists ourselves and also the folks in the neighborhood.
I am often asked what is the trajectory of your work? Well, the answer is that I am trying to get at the truth. I am trying to experience the truth of being alive and experiencing
my moment and the moment of human beings and situation in the world. I want to embrace it and to experience it as if its absolute truth. And that’s the end. Every painting I make or every picture I make I am after my truth. I am not saying its an objective truth. I am after my truth. I want to experience that truth and so each work that I do I pursuing that truth.