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Luis Garza Exhibit Captures a Story of Resilience

By Frank Rojas 9/11/19


Garza's exhibit at KGB Gallery. Photographed by Frank X. Rojas

The photography is both a reflection of a moment in time and an invitation to a conversation regarding community and identity. The enlarged black and white prints are displayed on the studio’s walls, expressing emotion through still photographs.


That is what photojournalist, Luis Garza has captured: the complexity of the Chicano experience.


On Saturday, September 7th, KGB Studios hosted the international debut of Garza’s new and past works, titled: Renacimiento (Rebirth). The exhibit explores the Chicano identity through Garza’s photography. His lens played a critical role in documenting the Chicano Rights Movement that took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


Garza had this to say regarding the exhibit and the history he has captured with his camera:


“See that artwork there? We will not be intimidated. Fifty years later, it’s the same thing. La lucha sigue.” (The fight continues.)


Garza witnessed and partook in the struggle for social justice with his photography that combined both journalism and activism. His contribution to La Raza Magazine brought actual documentation to a battle happening on the streets of East Los Angeles.


La Raza was more than just a community newspaper, it was a tool of resilience. The basement of a Lincoln Heights church served as the print shop for Chicano activists. Community members fought against a racist educational system that drove young Chicanos into military service and manual labor. The magazine served as a means of communication and justice through written documentation and captured imagery.


The exhibit hosts two of Garza’s most distinguished pictures, which are both interpretations of identity and community.


His portrait titled: "Homeboys" is simple when first viewed. It captures two young Chicano boys looking into the lens with a simple smile. However, the understanding of the time and place of the portrait illustrates the complexity of their grin. Their faces are caught in the middle of a posed and authentic moment, one that is taking place in history.


Garza examines the Chicano Rights Movement in his portrait titled: "We Will Not Be Intimidated". The title comes from a sign that a group of young Chicano activists is holding up. They remain vigilant as they lead a demonstration with others marching behind and holding up signs. The photograph captures a candid and honest moment of a community coming together and demanding justice.


Luis Garza’s photographs are both a time capsule and mirror into the Chicano experience. They serve as a reminder of the resilience of those in the past, as well as a sign of hope for those in the present. His pieces challenge the viewer to feel the emotion inside the still photographs. It is an indication of the work that has yet to be done.


The fight continues.



© 2019 by Frank Rojas | Email: behindlosojos@gmail.com