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Girl gangs: Portraits of Chicano girl culture from the 1990s

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.”

See more from Rosales Veterana and Rucas here.
More Veteranas and Rucas, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
09:36 am
Jesus, low riders, Unicorns & Mickey Mouse: the fascinating world of Chicano prison handkerchief art
11:03 am

I’m always impressed by the human ability and impulse to create art, even under the most dire of conditions, and it’s difficult to imagine a artistically repressive environment than the U.S. prison system. I’m actually kind of baffled I’d never heard of paños, the Chicano handkerchief prison art curated here by Reno Leplat-Torti, a Marseilles artists who began collecting them from the Internet just a few years ago. The diversity in style and iconography is fascinating; from ethnic (bullfights and Aztec imagery) to heavy metal demons to pin-up pulp—-even hankies clearly produced for children, the work is incredibly intimate and complex. A brief history from Leplat-Torti’s site:

The art of paño, diminutive of pañuelo ( «handkerchief» in Spanish), marginal folk art, appeared during the 40’s in the prisons of Texas, California and New Mexico. Some fans believe that their origins in the French prison system set up in Mexico after the revolution of 1910. The detainees, usually from Hispanic origin, most of them illiterate, invent their own system of communication with the outside.

On simple regulatory handkerchiefs assigned by the prison administration, they draw in pen with the recovered ink, wax or coffee. Thereafter, in the states of south-western United States this practice becomes a kind of prison traditional art and spreads to the rest of the country.

The Reno-Leplat Torti Collection now boasts over 200 paños, and a genre previously rarely seen by anyone but Chicano prisoners and their families has now been featured in galleries in Milan, Copenhagen and Paris. Torti is currently working on a documentary on the subject.


More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost
11:03 am