The Hawn Gallery’s current exhibition, Collective Practice: Community Building Through Zines, had a brisk turnout at its opening reception on October 20th and continues to draw many visitors to its installation. At the opening, members of Puro Chingón Collective – Claudia Zapata, James Huizar, and Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi – discussed the origin of their zine, Chingozine, and provided some context for their work. Curatorial Fellow for the Hawn Gallery, Emily Rueggeberg, selected pieces from the exhibition for a more in-depth discussion of these works.
The Selena Double-Sided Plush was created by Claudia Zapata, as part of the Collective’s designer toy collection. In 2014 the collective organized the Pachanga Latino Music Festival where they debuted their line of “designer toys,” Chingolandia.
Unlike toys found in commercial stores, designer toys are collectible objects made for display rather than play. However, such distinction does not preclude a playfulness in their subject matter. Puro Chingón’s toys are colorful and depict fictional characters created by each artist, such as the Great State of Tejas by James Huizar.
These works also appropriate Latino pop culture references including Selena Quintanilla, a beloved Tejana singer, actress, and fashion icon. Zapata describes below how much of the imagery used in the Collective’s work is immediately recognizable to many groups including Latinos, Chicanos, and Tejanos.
The zine’s design featured neon, colorful covers, and an original logo, one that harkened back to a vintage Lowrider magazine cover with Huizar’s drawing of a Chevy Impala and Aguilar’s tattooed Chicano woman with a high hair poof. The first ChingoZine cover had a predominately Chicano air, reminiscent of chola imagery and replete with several C/S (Con Safos) stamps.
The toys and zines are part of several larger community events that Puro Chingón hosts. The Collective sells their zines, prints, and designer toys at events, which they refer to as “happenings,” invoking 1950s public performances and events that occurred in different locations in a given city and encouraged audience participation. These events include the Collective’s Puro Chingón Social Club film screenings. Similar to audience participation during the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the audience was given props and encouraged to interact with films such as Frida, La Bamba, and Selena.
The Collective’s events and zine release parties are an integral part of their work as they create new spaces for the diverse community members who read, contribute to the zines, and interactions with one another. Such spaces also create new connections and collaborations between groups who might not otherwise gather in the same space. The exhibition’s inclusion of the Collective’s zines and visual art demonstrates how the use of text and images acts as a means to support, represent, and empower diverse groups.
Blog post: Courtesy of Emily Rueggeberg, Curatorial Fellow for the Hawn Gallery, SMU
Image: Selena double-sided plush, Claudia Zapata, 2015; screen-printed canvas stuff with washable stuffing; Edition of 10. Courtesy of Puro Chingón Collective.
Collective Practice is on display until December 17th, 2017. The gallery is open daily,
M-TH 8AM-9PM, F 8AM-6PM, Sat 12PM-5PM, Sun 2PM-9PM and free to the public. For more information, please call 214-768-3813 or visit http://www.smu.edu/cul/hamon.
 Zapata, Claudia. “Undocumented doodles, ‘Chola-fied fly girls’, and Chingos of paper: The History and Beginnings of ChingoZine.” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, 42, no. 1 (2017): 217, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.