With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848), some 80,000 residents living in the former Mexican territories became citizens of the United States. Over the subsequent 170 years, Mexican American artists have created a rich array of artistic forms, from murals to carved wood sculptures and cut-paper art, installations and new media. It is therefore not surprising that Mexican American art aligns with categories, genres, styles, and practices outlined by canonic American art history.

Nevertheless, this connection is not without paradox. While uncompromisingly voicing its American identity, Mexican American art and artists simultaneously continue to lay claim to influences from Spain, Mexico, and the indigenous populations of North America. In so doing, they both critique and problematize traditional definitions of American art and, by extension, what it means to be “American.”