This exhibition centers around the commemorative prints, photographic documentation, and ephemera from the celebration of Día de Los Muertos at Self Help Graphics & Art. The Los Angeles based art center has observed Día de Los Muertos as a form of creative celebration, community building, and advocacy for five decades. Self Help Graphics & Art emerged as a response to the need for East Los Angeles artists to have an open cultural arts center that promoted Chicanx and Latinx art. The organization began in 1970 with founders Sister Karen Boccalero, Carlos Bueno, Antonio Ibanez, Frank Hernandez and other artists working out of Sister Karen’s garage.
The organization grew and relocated to Boyle Heights, where it developed educational programming alongside what would become an internationally recognized printmaking studio. In 1973 a Día de Los Muertos program at Self Help Graphics & Art was conceived of as a one-time celebration. This celebration accomplished some of Self Help Graphics & Art’s goals by educating East Los Angeles residents about a tradition within their own cultural heritage. The event introduced many to the creative process and helped build a stronger community rooted in the creative and spiritual practices of remembrance. The following year the community demand for this event was so great that the organization decided to continue holding it annually.
This exhibition was originally organized as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Latin America and Latino Art in LA a 2018 Getty initiative. We are indebted to the generosity of Self Help Graphics & Art for sharing this exhibition with us and to the curators of the 2018 exhibition Linda Vallejo and Betty Ann Brown, Ph.D.