Movers and Shakers of Mexican-American D.I.Y Art Movement

Due to the current social and political concerns and injustices, specifically pertaining to black and brown communities of color, the D.I.Y art scene is utterly significant in present time.

Limitations have been placed on the identities of these groups and include the slandering labels from media: poverty stricken, undocumented, gang related, and violent. These depictions reduce their knowledge, talent, and culture in mainstream media and present low income and working class families as dysfunctional and inadequate. In Chicago, the neighborhoods of Little Village and Pilsen have created a movement that encourages activists, street art, music and culture in the “Do-It-Yourself” movement.

To preserve the engaging and all-encompassing Mexican-American creative art scene, a new wave of action has been created in the neighborhoods on the South side of Chicago. While the creators, or movers and shakers, in these communities have never ceased their creative endeavors, the wider public makes no acknowledgement. Their projects are not a new beginning, but rather a decision to reinforce their voice and particular diversity.

DIY Cultura

The “Do-It-Yourself” mentality is linked to subcultures, grassroots projects, the punk era, and the current answer for communities that reject consumer culture and seek outcomes without professional assistance. DIY apartment galleries and creative-based spaces are at the core of Chicago’s art scene and specifically in the South side neighborhoods. Little Village has a lack of professional and commercial galleries — this has kickstarted a revolution for alternative spaces and galleries.

Here are a few of the top South side collectives and groups that are inspiring young and emerging artists to create their own path in the DIY culture of Chicago.


VillArte, a Little Village-based collective, is in its 10th year and encourages the DIY culture. Their efforts to support local Chicago artists and exhibitions have created a spark in the grassroots scene. By creating a safe space outside of educational institutions or professional establishments, VillArte promotes artistic growth.

By bringing together music, events, art, and performance, EXPO Collective, brings together culture from all over the city and beyond. The collective is hosting The Red Tour in LA with DJ Ricky Guapo of Mucho Music on January 16, which celebrates the first solo art tour with co-founder and creative director Erick “ROHO” Garcia. LA is the epicenter for Latino culture and the tour begins in the city and will travel through various communities. The exhibition will focus on identity and heritage.

The Pilsen Outpost is a project made up of Chicago artists, Teresa Magaña, Pablo Ramirez and Diana Solis. Family workshops, painting workshops, and drawing classes are among the many opportunities that the Pilsen Outpost offers in the Southside neighborhood. On view at the gallery is SKETCHMAS: 50 Artists, 50 Sketchbooks, which will be on view until January 31st.

Graffiti artist, teacher, painter, and public arts creator, Kane One, is an avid Chicago community member who educates locals about the importance of street art and creative freedom. His work was recently exhibited at ShowPOD.

In addition to the arts in the South side, is the music. VILLAPALOOZA is a DIY grassroots music festival that explores poetry, dancing, food, and authentic expression founded in 2011. The free music festival’s motto encourages a non-violent festival for celebration and community engagement.

CumbiaSazo describes themselves as a “Future-Latino” DJ compilation that celebrates club culture and cultural heritage through fundraisers, visual arts, sound systems, and food. Since 2011, the Pilsen based group has hosted events and live sets across the city.

Nicole Lane
Nicole Lane
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