Book Documents Voices for Justice

Mission Gráfica’s Poster Art Reveals the Power of Print

With an army of community-based graphic artists over its 40-plus years of existence, Mission Gráfica, a Mission-based graphic arts center, has helped lead campaigns for social justice. That effort is now the focus of a new book that documents how their poster art was instrumental in the political movements that embraced the Bay Area from 1982 to the present.

The just-released book entitled “Mission Gráfica: Reflecting a Community in Print,” published by Pacific View Press in San Francisco, is a collection of poster art by 59 artists. The 137-page, softcover book showcases 104 silkscreen color prints with accompanying text highlighting the significance of each poster.

The 8-1/2 x 11 book is a collaboration of Juan R. Fuentes, Robbin Légére Henderson, Michelle Mouton, Calixto Robles, and Jos Sances. Fuentes is a former director of Mission Gráfica.

Ester Hernandez’s Mis Madres artwork featured on the poster of MCCLA’s latest exhibition, Mission Gráfica 46 Years: Community, Culture and Politics. Courtesy: MCCLA

Mission Gráfica bares its roots in the Mission. Founded in 1982, it is currently housed in the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, a key cultural center in the neighborhood. 

The book includes a brief, but insightful look at the history of Mission Gráfica by artist Art Hazelwood and a touching and powerful preface by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. He describes the art and how it embraces the people — la gente. It also includes five black-and-white photographs of artists at work in the early days of the center. 

The center harbored El Tecolote in those early days when we needed space to layout the newspaper. ¡Gracías MCCLA!

Instead of being categorized decades, the art is creatively grouped based on six distinct categories: Women’s Voices, International Solidarity, Local Politics, Indigenous America, Cultural Celebrations, and U.S. Imperialism.

The book’s cover by Réne Castro is a colorful tribute to the Salvadoran rebels with a solidarity rose and an erupting volcano representing the power of the freedom fighters.

Iconic Chicano artist Juan R. Fuentes poses for a portrait holding a copy of the book, “Mission Gráfica: Reflecting a Community in Print.” Fuentes is also the curator of MCCLA’s latest exhibition, Mission Gráfica 46 Years: Community, Culture and Politics. Courtesy: MCCLA

Mission Gráfica, the book, is a powerful collection of poster art from some of the most notable Bay Area artists who have utilized the services of the center. Among the artists are Réne Castro, Carmen Lomas Garza, Juan R. Fuentes, Rupert Garcia, Ester Hernandez, René Yañez, Juana Alicia, Jesus Barraza, Enrique Chagoya, Nancy Hom, Chuy Campusano, Irene Perez, Tirso G. Araiza, Art Hazelwood, Linda Lucero, Herbert Siqüenza, Alfonso Maciel, Francisco Letelier, Calixto Robles, and Michael Roman, just to name a few.

The reproduction of the poster art is exquisite. Also, how the text compliments the graphics makes it easy to navigate from page to page. 

“Mission Gráfica: Reflecting a Community in Print” is worth adding to your personal library collection. You won’t be disappointed. 

The book is available at the Mission Cultural Center of Latino Arts, 2868 Mission St. The posters are also on display at the current MCCLA exhibit entitled “Mission Gráfica, 46 years, Community, Culture, and Politics” which runs through June 25. Fuentes is the exhibit’s curator.

For more information, call 415-796-6422.