Oral history interview with Juana Alicia, 2000 May 8 and July 17
Alicia, Juana, 1953-
Karlstrom, Paul J., 1941-
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 99 pages
Originally recorded on 4 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 8 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hrs., 6 minutes.
An interview of Juana Alicia conducted 2000 May 8-July 17, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, in Alicia's studio, Berkeley, California.
Juana Alicia discusses her childhood in Detroit and Texas; her identification as part of the black community; admiration of Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King, Jr., whose death "devastated" her; moving in 1972 to Salinas, California at the invitation of Cesar Chavez; working in the lettuce fields and inspiration for her mural Lechugueras (1985) in the Mission District of San Francisco; Chicana identity; art as central to her story; her work during the 1970s and 80s becoming more international in scope and connecting to the struggles of others; her interest in ancient techniques and in the work of Los Tres Grandes and the frescos of Diego Rivera; her current project, Santuarios, with her partner, at SFO, and the iconography of the work in terms of three forces at work: artist's experience, mandate of commission, spiritual/universal force; El Cordon Rota (1998), a banner prepared for and withdrawn from a Tijuana show in response to John Valadez's poster image of a nude Chicana; interest in aesthetics and the idea of beauty in art as vital to survival; her views on gender equality, empowerment through art, differences between men and women; the "Positive Visability" mural (1995) in San Francisco's lower Haight district, with a description of the iconography and recent restoration project supported by Neighborhood Beautification Program fighting hate crimes throughout the city.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Juana Alicia, 2000 May 8 and July 17. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The digital preservation of this interview received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Juana Alicia (1953-) is a painter, printmaker, and educator in Berkeley, California. Juana Alicia is among the leading Chicana muralists in California and a major figure in Bay Area Chicana and women's movements. Among her commissions is a mural done with her partner Emmanuel C. Montoya at the San Francisco International Airport. Uses only her forenames; does not use her last name.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for this interview provided by SI Latino Initiative II, 1999.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001