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Hispanic / Latinx Heritage Month and “Hella Feminist” artists

Since 1968, Americans have been observing National Hispanic Heritage (NHH) Month/Latinx Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. This year’s official NHH theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”

Showcasing lesser-known stories and voices is part of the mission of our organization, which is also displayed by many of the Latinx-identifying artists featured in our now closed exhibitionHella Feminist. Here are some of the Latinx-identifying artists featured in Hella Feminist, sharing how their art creates a stronger nation by inviting new and diverse voices to the discussion.

Tanya Aguiñiga
When curators of Hella Feminist originally invited Tanya Aguiñiga to participate in the exhibition, in pre-pandemic 2020, her first step was to release a public call for femme and femme-identified contributors to share objects and stories that museums typically exclude. Twenty-nine people responded to Aguiñiga’s call and she began weaving them into a hanging textile.

The textile began to take the form of Coatlicue, the Mexican goddess of earth, and the result is a massive hanging sculpture entitled Museoexclusion. Learn more about Coatilcue and the connection between Aguiñiga’s sculpture and the goddess.

Xandra Ibarra
Xandra Ibarra, from the El Paso/Juarez border region, is based in Oakland. As a visual and performance artist and community organizer, Ibarra makes work that challenges the viewer to confront the complicated and uncomfortable power dynamics that lie at the intersection of race, class, and sexuality. She leans into the taboo and prods us to judge, react, and otherwise reveal the most socially unacceptable parts of ourselves.

Spic Ecdysis is the culmination of a series of performances Ibarra produced under the pseudonym “La Chica Boom.” She embodied hyper-racialized and hypersexualized versions of herself in an attempt to discover queer pleasure. Eventually, Ibarra began to feel that her largely white audience was not able to understand the subversion of stereotypes she was enacting. Spic Ecdysis was a way for her to contemplate the reception of these performances and shed the accumulated layers of racism and sexism she had taken on as “La Chica Boom.”  

Radical Monarchs
Oakland-based Radical Monarchs, a social justice group for “girl-identified people,” fosters social activism and self-empowerment by affirming the brilliance of those who do not conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood. Monarchs wear brown berets and vests that they decorate with earned badges like Radical Coding, Black Lives Matter, and Pachamama Justice.  They were featured in Hella Feminist as this group continues to foster social activism and self-empowerment for young people in Oakland.

Cherrríe Moraga
Cherrie Moraga’s likeness is one of the 200 papercut portraits that Miriam Klein Stahl, Oakland-based artist and activist, created with Kate Schatz, feminist writer, activist, and educator. Each portrait featured a woman or nonbinary person from Oakland, Berkeley, and the East Bay who have challenged the notion of feminism to make it more accessible to nonconforming people.

Moraga was raised two blocks from the San Gabriel Mission, and is now an internationally recognized poet, playwright, essayist and memoirist. The Chicana writer and feminist activist uses her platform to explore the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race.

OMCA’s Hella Feminist exhibition was on view in the Great Hall between July 29, 2022 and January 8, 2023.