Maria Varela first engaged in social justice activism by joining the Young Christian Students (YCS) at her south-side Chicago High School. YCS was an international organization inspired by liberation theology to transform oppressive conditions in workplaces, schools and communities. After graduating from college in 1961, Varela worked for two years as a campus organizer for the National Staff of YCS. In 1963, she accepted an invitation to join the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a civil rights organization operating in the U.S. South.

In 1968 the experienced civil rights activist accepted an invitation from Reies López Tijerina (1926-2015) to join the Land Grant Movement in New Mexico: a movement to restore ancestral lands taken by the U.S. Government and/or stolen by land speculators. Tijerina and other Latino leaders were invited to participate in the Poor Peoples Campaign in Washington DC in June of 1968. Maria Varela was the only photographer embedded with the Chicano delegation for the duration of the campaign.

“The images in this exhibition reflect the evolution of resistance movements over nearly three decades, from demonstrations to political organizing to establishing alternative institutions, which would model what we would do ‘if we were in charge’.”

– Maria Varela

 

El primer compromiso de Maria Varela con el activismo por la justicia social fue cuando se unió a los Jóvenes Estudiantes Cristianos (YCS) en la escuela preparatoria del lado sur de Chicago. La YCS era una organización internacional inspirada por la teología de la liberación que establecía transformar las condiciones opresivas en los lugares de trabajo, las escuelas y las comunidades. Después de graduarse de la universidad (1961), Varela trabajó dos años como organizadora del campus para el Personal Nacional del YCS. En 1963, aceptó la invitación a unirse al Comité Coordinador Estudiantil No Violento (SNCC), una organización de derechos civiles que funciona en el sur de los Estados Unidos.

En 1968 la experimentada activista de los derechos civiles aceptó una invitación de Reies López Tijerina (1926-2015) a unirse al movimiento chicano Land Grant Movement en Nuevo México: un movimiento para restaurar tierras ancestrales tomadas por el gobierno de los EE.UU. y/o robadas por los especuladores de la tierra. Tijerina y otros líderes latinos fueron invitados en junio de 1968 a Washington DC a participar en la Campaña de los Pueblos Pobres. Maria Varela fue la única fotógrafa incluida en la delegación chicana durante el transcurso de la campaña.

“Las imágenes de esta exhibición reflejan la evolución de los movimientos de resistencia durante casi tres décadas, desde las demostraciones hasta la organización política para establecer instituciones alternativas que pudieran generar modelos de lo que haríamos ‘si estuviéramos a cargo’.”

– Maria Varela

Exhibition organized by the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago. Sponsors: Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Illinois Arts Council Agency and Southwest Airlines.

This exhibition is made possible for The Fralin Museum of Art through generous support from the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights at the University of Virginia and The Fralin Museum of Art Volunteer Board. 

The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is made possible through generous support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. We also wish to thank our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.

Schedules

  • Occurred Tuesday, November 19th, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Venue

The Fralin Museum of Art

155 Rugby Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903

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