The Influence of Mayan/ Aztec Culture on Modern Chicano art

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Culture is defined as the social behavior and norms found in human social orders. Culture may also be characterized as a particular community of people's way of life, which includes the same customs, language, food, faith, art, and a variety of other knowledge and characteristics. Religion and the arts are essential components of human society.

Art is the expressive development of a significant and attractive object by the use of ingenuity and imagination. Regardless, art is conceptual, and its definition has been disputed across numerous art movements and cultures. Art in its most basic definition is communication. Communication is essential to understanding one another in the society. Thus, art expressed correctly, has a meaning. Art is a universal language. In a way, art is a way for a culture to manifest itself universally.

In the humanities, one feeling of culture as a characteristic of the individual has been how much they have developed a specific level of modernity in art. Culture defined in its elite definition is associated with art, music, and cuisine. The nineteenth century Romans identified culture with the consumption of art, film, music food and clothing. Disputing the definition of art often comes up because so little is known about the cultures that produced them. Without art, it is next to impossible to trace back to culture. A culture that has art thrives. When artworks of culture have survived, their influence gets transmitted to other cultures and later times of the same culture. Art breaks the boundaries of culture and makes up one universal culture. Culture and art coexist, one requires the other to thrive and vice versa. Culture depends on art to express and define it, and art depends on culture to provide inspiration and introspection.

In 1998, Danto Arthur, recommended an idea demonstrating that "the status of antiquity as art comes about because of the thoughts a culture applies to it, instead of its natural physical or recognizable qualities (Beezley).

The Mexican culture mirrors the nation's intricate history and is the consequence of the slow mixing of Mesoamerican (local culture) with Spanish culture and other cultures (Beezley). The culture of a Mexican citizen is affected by their sexual orientation, familial ties, religion, area and social class, other different elements. From multiple points of view, contemporary life in the urban areas of Mexico has turned out to be like that in neighboring United States and Europe, with frequent individuals rationing customs more so than the city occupants (Beezley).

Mexico is known for its folk traditional art style, for the most part, got from indigenous and Spanish artworks. Pre Columbian art flourished over a broad time range, from 1800 BC to the AD 1500. Certain imaginative qualities were rehashed all through the locale, in particular, an inclination for precise, straight examples, and three-dimensional earthenware production.

After the revolution of Mexico, a new movement of art by the younger Mexican generation came up nationally. This new movement combined historical, folk, and political themes in their art. Notable painters like David Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, and Diego Rivera were among those that propagated muralism in Mexican art. The murals often portrayed the social ideals of Mexican culture. This movement came to be known as Chicano movement in the 1960s.

Modern Chicano art is greatly influenced by this movement that takes inspiration from the Mesoamerican culture. Mayan and Aztec cultures are among the smaller cultures that thrived in the large and influential Mesoamerican culture. Most of the Chicano art introspection comes from Mayan and Aztec culture. Today, a large number Mexicans have migrated to the United States, and they practice Chicano art to stay true to their culture.

CULTURE OF THE MAYA PEOPLE

The Mayans are indigenous Mesoamerican people. The Mayan people are comprised of many more distinct ethnicities and societies that have their customs and culture. During the conquest of the Spanish, most defining factors of the Mayan people got destroyed. There was also the Guatemala Civil War that claimed at least 200,000 lives (Vanvoorst). Most of them were Mayan. They were farmers, and their diet included mostly maize and beans. They practiced ceramics, basketry, and weaving. They had a signature way of doing business with community commercial markets which were crowded and spacious. They still practice this in modern Mexico. The Maya civilization was an early one (Vanvoorst). Thus, the Central American climate is humid, destroying paintings. Despite the setback, few of Mayan art still exist. Mayan people practiced mural painting on their building walls, tombs, temples and public buildings. In their murals, they decorated them with flower symbols. They would also paint scenes from their daily lives like farming. They used a lot of color in their paintings too (Vanvoorst). The Maya people also practiced stone sculpturing, wood carving, stucco modeling, and ceramics.

The Maya people were really into their clothing and took it seriously. Respectable women would wear long dresses, while men would wear breechcloth and girdles. They could both wear turbans. They decorated their bodies with colorful patterns during special events. Some paintings, however, were customary to mark your status in the society and age. Later in the years, they would begin decorating their faces like a deformed skull, teeth incrustation and face tattoos (Vanvoorst).

AZTEC CULTURE

Aztec culture was a culture in the Mesoamerican culture that thrived in Mexico between 1300-1521 (Felipe R. Solís Olguín). An alliance between Texcoca, Tepaneca, and Mexica tribes was where the empire of Aztec was conceived. The Aztec people were particular groups of people who communicated in the Nahuatl dialect. They were maize cultivators. The Aztec people were stringent and respectful of their religion (Felipe R. Solís Olguín). The Aztec people were loyal to their gods that they even offered human sacrifices to them. Their daily lives were built around their religion, unlike other times.

At its best, the culture of Aztec had sophisticated and rich religious and mythological traditions. While they thrived in religion, they also had other notable accomplishments such as the calendar stone, architecture, and art. The calendar stone that the Aztecs used is almost similar to the one we use today (Felipe R. Solís Olguín). They had two calendars; one had 260days for religious purposes and the other 365days for everyday life. The Aztecs also thrived in the art of sculpturing. The sculptures had deep meanings on life and death. They were a truly introspective society (Felipe R. Solís Olguín).

CHICANO ART

Chicano Art is an art movement that was started by Americans with Mexican decent to develop and establish their identity as artists in the United States (Jackson). The Chicano art is greatly influenced by the 1960s Chicano Movement. This new form of art was used as a tool by the artists to stay true to their cultural values and resist adopting the American way of life. Thus, they created it to represent them as people (Jackson). With time, the art has evolved and tackles more issues including social and political issues, unity and culture preservation. Chicano art is much more than just Mexican art; it is a true testament to art breaking boundaries and being adopted in foreign cultures. It is normally defined as a unique look at American art (Jackson).

To be more specific, Chicano art is a form of protesting against racial profiling in the United States. The art is more direct than abstract to arrive at its subject and inspiration. Another important aspect of Chicano art is the community-based subjects. Chicano artist is more likely to paint day to day life such as marketplaces, religion, customs, farming, and family gatherings (Jackson). Chicano art references their Mexican indigenous cultures, immigration, and displacements. Mural painting is also a major aspect in Chicano art as most of their artworks are drawn on walls.

Today, Chicano art has adopted a more Street, urban, and graffiti. The Chicano art has evolved to create new frontier of art such as Chicano Prison art and Panos drawing. The prison art is a blend of Chicano tattoos graffiti styles and religious artworks (Jackson).

THE INFLUENCE OF MAYAN/AZTEC CULTURE ON MODERN CHICANO ART

Chicano art is heavily influenced by the indigenous cultures in the Pre-Columbian period (Mesoamerican). The Ancient people of Aztec have influenced the modern Mexico with its religious aspects. The Mexican flag has a coat of arms derived from Aztec beliefs. La Virgen de Guadalupe, an important figure of religion in Mexican culture is used greatly by Chicano artists as a sign of empowerment, hope in troubling times, and resistance. The coat of arms, on the Mexican flag, is gotten from an Aztec legend that their divine beings instructed them to construct a city where they detect a bird on a nopal eating a serpent, which is presently Mexico City. In Chicano art, this legend has been greatly used and referenced.

In the Mexican culture, there is a holiday that is celebrated by many people known as the day of the dead. The holiday is about gathering friends and family and celebrates those who have died. The holiday is conjoined with the Day of All Saints which a religious holiday. The day of the dead is held in high regard in Mexican religion. Thus, the Chicano art take inspiration from religion, they have incorporated Day of the dead into their art. The holiday can be traced back to the Aztec people. The holiday involves decorating of altars with marigold and sugar skull and visiting funeral homes with the deceased favorite meal. Numerous Chicanos safeguard their association with their Aztec legacy by consolidating Aztec symbolism (Quetzalcoatl, goddesses and divine beings, work, sanctuaries, and so forth.) into their craft, from wall paintings to prints to execution move to music, as a route for verifiable and social confirmation.

Chicano artists take inspiration from the Mayan culture. The Mayan culture practiced mural painting, and most aspect of modern Chicano Art has been derived from the Mayan culture. From their decorative floral patterns to face painting. They would also paint their faces like a deformed skull and teeth incrustation. Chicano artists incorporated this in their art and would paint people with a skull to replace a normal head. The Mayan people have faced a lot of death in their time. The Guatemalan Civil War that claimed a lot of Mayan people still remains in their culture, as seen in Chicano Art. There are themes of death in the art as portrayed by the artistic directions.

Chicano art has a lot of Mayan culture inspiration, when it comes to dress codes. Chicano art paints women wearing long dresses and turbans. The Mayan women dressed this way in their normal lives. The Aztec culture has greatly influenced the Chicano art spiritually and introspectively. The Mayan culture has also heavily influenced the Chicano art subjectively. Chicano artists also embraced graffiti in their art from the Mayan culture who would use a lot of color and incorporate folk themes in Chicano art.

The appropriation of indigenous Mesoamerican symbolism permitted Chicanas to declare an indigenous character and, all the more critically, manufactured a common sensibility in view of profound and social ideas.

CONCLUSION

Art is for the inherent value of culture: life-enhancing, entertaining, defining of our personal and national identities. Art is for the innate estimation of culture: life-improving, engaging, characterizing of our own and cultural identities. Art is a significant part of society. History clearly proves that art is more than just what meets the eye. It is like a peeking hole in time where we can see and study a time beyond ours and discover a culture so colorful.

Culture and art, at their exceptionally core fill in as probably the most huge, dynamic, support, and social impacts of human conduct and communication. At the point when assembled, they can produce sympathy, blend up discourse, actuate reflection and contract new connections and thoughts.

Culture and art additionally give an instructing and just method for sharing, forming, and communicating human values. They enable us to investigate our inward abilities and give us understanding on how we envision and utilize diverse intends to relate with each other. Culture and art additionally furnish us with an approach to make helpful and significant things while expanding the estimation of our jobs and firms that are driven by substantially more than overall revenues.

One of the most notable cultures that shaped the way we look at art today is the Greeks. They basically defined art to the rest of the world. The Mexican people are rich in culture because of their art. Their culture thrived and continues to do so today. The Chicano art being primarily practiced in the United States truly shows that art travels with its people and their heritage does not die just because they are not in their homeland. Culture influences art and art influences culture. Neither exists without the other.

Works Cited

Beezley, William H. A Companion to Mexican History and Culture. Vol. 15. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Felipe R. Solís Olguín, Solomon R. The Aztec Empire. Mexico: Guggenheim Museum Publications, 2004.

Jackson, Carlos Francisco. Chicana and Chicano Art: ProtestArte Mexican American experience. Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 2009.

Vanvoorst, Jennifer Fretland. The Ancient Maya: Exploring the Ancient World. Mexico: Capstone, 2012.

July 29, 2022
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