Political Activism and the Arts
This section draws parallels between political activism and the role of the arts as a conduit to express the concerns and aspirations of our communities. The artist uses guitar strings as a metaphor for prison bars and pays tribute to a group of artists with a long tradition of speaking out against social injustices. Illustrated is David Alfaro Siqueiros, known as one of the artistic masters of the twentieth century and a member of the Mexican school of mural painting that includes José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Siqueiros’s political activism resulted in many deportations and years in jail where he created most of his easel works. Other figures behind the bars represent the independistas of the 1980s who were trying to call attention to the cause of Puerto Rican independence from the U.S. Members of this group were arrested and refused to testify at their trials, stating they were being held as prisoners of war and the U.S. courts had no right to try them. They received federal sentences of 35 to 105 years each. Lacking evidence, the government portrayed their refusal to testify as equivalent to an admission of guilt.
The woman being arrested is Dolores “Lolita” Lebrón Sotomayor, a poet and activist who committed her life to ending U.S. colonial control of Puerto Rico. She visited the Latino Cultural Center in 1997 and left us the gift of her signature on this mural.
For more information, see Mural Dialogues & Tours.