“There Was No Spartacus Here”: Norma Montoya and Art as Abeyance in the Estrada Courts Mural Program

  • Jonathan D. Gomez Temple University Press


The social processes that link collective art making to social movement activism enable community-based art making to serve as a key mechanism for art-based community making. Chicana/o mural art has been an important register of ordinary people’s self-active creativity, of their determination to create new democratic social spaces and new social identities capable of effecting social change based on egalitarian principles. When they are not painting on walls, mural artists hold various jobs and fulfill diverse roles as teachers, community organizers, and unofficial archivists. They do their work in solidarity with all aggrieved groups, especially young people who confront unfavorable material conditions in their neighborhoods. The collective mural-making practices of artists in the Chicana/o mural movement throughout the US Southwest during the 1970s offer an important focal point for understanding the practice and promise of intergenerational transfers of knowledge, collective art making, and self-active creativity not directly controlled by powerful institutions and social groups.