Artist Guadalupe Rosales established and curates Veteranas and Rucas an Instagram account dedicated to documenting Chicano youth culture of Southern California in the 1990s. What started out in 2015 as a way to reconnect with lost friends and half-remembered acquaintances from her own teenage days soon developed into a richer, broader, far more important history of the lives of women (and men) raised in SoCal and beyond.
“Veteranas and Rucas serves as a digital archive where strangers, close friends and family share a virtual space that speaks a language many of us can relate to….The attention that the Instagram has received has resurrected a part of history that hasn’t been talked about or well documented—yet so many people were excited to see it come back. Working on Veteranas and Rucas made me realize how important this subculture is.”
Rosales who grew up in LA asks people to submit their own photographs of life in SoCal during this period. Her site takes its name from the words “Veterana” which means “someone who has put in work or time in the gang culture,” and “‘ruca’ [which] is what you call your chick.” Anyone who knows these words, Rosales adds, will be able to connect with her and Chicano culture.
Photographs carry complex messages. They make solid a person, a moment, a feeling, or some shared event of deeply personal significance. They also capture the space within which these fleeting moments take place. Rosales documents many of these neighborhoods which have been lost with the rise of the behemoth urban gentrification devouring and repopulating these once mainly ethnic and working class areas.
In 2000, Rosales quit LA—just a few years after a cousin was killed in Boyle Heights. She moved to New York where she witnessed another kind of gentrification taking place in the city. This led Rosales to gradually reconnect with the friends and people with whom she had grown-up. The connections she renewed inspired Rosales to start her archive of ‘90s Chicano youth.
“What I’m interested in posting is women that look like strong women….They look tough, and I like showing photographs like that because I want to say that women can be attractive when they’re strong women.”