Mask sculptor Zarco Guerrero


I think one of the big things that the Chicano Movement did for us was to relate us to the past. Our history that we knew nothing about, Our history we never learned in school. What the Chicano Movement did was bring that past to light and all of the sudden we realized we weren’t descendants of blood-thirsty savages. All of a sudden, we look back to our past and we saw people who are great leaders.

I think the Plan de Aztlán and the whole concept of Aztlán was fundamental to our way of thinking. It gave us a connection to the land, an ancient connection

El Plan de Aztlán

to the land and to the Indian peoples that are buried beneath us. We were no longer strangers. We weren’t “aliens.” This was, in fact, the land of our ancestors.

I went to Mexico to study muralism and sculpture. But in Mexico I saw the ancient Olmec masks in El Museo De Antropología. And at the same time that I was seeing masks in dance and ritual ceremonies throughout indigenous villages in Mexico. And the more I saw of the masks, the more I realized the power of the mask and this important tradition of ours as Mexicanos.

Artistic traditions, cultural traditions, that many artists had overlooked. I felt this was my place as a sculptor, to explore the mask because it was sculpture, painting, it incorporated music, dance, elements of mythology, spirituality, and story telling. It was an art form that was alive and breathing.

Zarco Guerrero Masks

This gave me a mandate as a sculptor. I was meant to use my indigenous heritage, those masks, to express my humanity from a standpoint of a Chicano and to express the universality of mankind. The mask for me, it was universal!