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CFP: Self Help Graphics at Fifty (Dartmouth, 2018)

Recent exhibitions have showcased the extent to which Los Angeles eclipsed New York in the 1960s and 70s becoming an epicenter for avant-garde printmaking. However, these surveys and their associated catalogues often fail to note the importance of Self Help Graphics in furthering aesthetic trends and expanding the notion of printmaking beyond its traditional scope toward participatory, experimental, and mobile collaborative projects. This edited collection proposes an intervention in the historiography of Southern California printmaking by expanding on the history of Self Help Graphics’ artistic legacy.

Founded in 1970 in the heart of East Los Angeles, Self Help Graphics (SHG) produces, exhibits, and distributes fine art prints by underrepresented artists. Through its acclaimed artist residency program and innovative arts education initiatives, SHG empowered and nurtured several generations of artists, particularly from communities of color, who have historically struggled to gain access to printmaking workshops. Since its inception the founders (Sister Karen Boccalero, Frank Hernandez, Carlos Bueno, and Antonio Ibañez) articulated a philosophy of creative social change, as well as a professionalization and commodity production process, as a publisher of limited editions, to help artists of color succeed in the art world of Los Angeles. Renowned artists such as Carlos Almaraz, Tomie Arai, Barbara Carrasco, Yreina Cervantez, Felipe Ehrenberg, Diane Gamboa, Raymond Pettibon, and Patssi Valdez, excelled through their atelier program, working closely with master printers in the production of fine art serigraphs. SHG was also a meeting ground for youth cultures as evidenced in the underground punk scene at the Vex, a unique music venue housed at SHG. As the organization approaches its fifty-year golden anniversary, the editors of this collection want to galvanize on this moment and work collaboratively with fellow scholars to contextualize the past five decades of graphic art production in one of the country’s longest running and most beloved community-based workshops.

In particular, the editors seek submissions that engage theoretical and methodological discourses in art history, visual culture, Latino Studies, and critical race theory. Themes might include, but are not limited to: decolonization, materiality, feminisms, pedagogy, placemaking, (post)modernisms, semiotics, performance, and social practice. Previous literature on SHG has been produced as part of exhibition catalogues, archival finding aids, as well as news and academic journal articles with limited circulation, but we envision an edited collection that reflects deeply on SHG’s fifty-year legacy and contribution to American art. To apply, please submit a 250-word abstract with a CV to and by December 15, 2017.

This multi-year project will convene a symposium/panel in 2018 where selected participants will present papers and our working group will provide feedback. In the spring of 2019, essays will be due to editors and they will work closely with contributors during the revisions process. The editors anticipate submitting the anthology manuscript to an academic press in 2020 when the project will begin its production schedule.
Relevant research areas: North America, 20th Century

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