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New Exhibit at Westside Community Center!

April 14, 2020

On March 20th, we installed a new exhibit that was all set to coincide with the 24th Annual Cesar Chavez March for Justice on March 28th, 2020. It was, unfortunately, cancelled and the posters will not be seen for a while, but our exhibit hangs in the UTSA Westside Community Center which will hopefully be open for viewing soon!

A view out the front door of the UTSA Westside Community Center.

A view out the front door of the UTSA Westside Community Center.

Since we do not get to debut this exhibit with the city’s current state of self-isolation, we thought we’d give you a preview of it here and to give you a little bit of a behind the scenes tour of how we put together this sort of exhibit!

1. Choosing the posters is an important first step and one that can be more time consuming than you would initially think. For this exhibit, we had a clear idea that it would come from three different collections:

The José Angel Gutiérrez Papers (MS 024): Dr. Gutiérrez is an activist, attorney and professor. He was a founding member of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) in San Antonio in 1967, and a founding member and past president of the Raza Unida Party, a Chicano third party movement that supported candidates for elective office in Texas, California, and other areas of the Southwestern and Midwestern United States. We knew he had a number of posters in his collection.


A Farm Workers Theater poster from the Fred R. Garza Political Poster Collection (MS 497). This poster was chosen to be in this exhibit. 

The Fred R. Garza Political Posters Collection [MS 497]: Fred R. Garza is a Chicano activist who lives in San Antonio, Texas. He has been active in organizations such as La Raza Unida Party, the Texas Farm Workers Union, and Teatro de los Barrios and he donated a large amount of political posters!


The Serie Print Project Collection (MS 341): The Serie Project is an Austin, Texas based, non-profit organization that promotes the production of affordable fine art through a type of screen printing called serigraphy. This is a large project, but has many Chicanx based works that we thought would align well with original UFW posters. They are also, fortunately, fully digitized.

Once we’d been through these collections and chosen a few that we thought would work well, we had to have them digitized!

2. Scanning and digitizing the posters

We do not yet have an in-house scanned that is large enough to digitize posters of this size. Therefore, once a month, the Center for Archaeological Research at UTSA (CAR) let us use their scanner for projects just like this one! 


Viva La Revolucion” from the Fred R Garza Political Poster Collection (MS 497). A good example of leaving the tattered corners and other wear and tear.

Scanning can take a lot of space, especially since we wanted them in a TIFF format, which will give us a better image when we blow it up for printing. We were also careful about wanting to keep certain details of the posters, such as tears, folds and some obvious staple marks at the corners to show that these posters were actually used and viewed on the street. They were not meant as gallery prints like the Serie Project artwork was. 


3. Printing and mounting the posters

In order to get full color and full size posters, there are a few different places we can have this done for us. Sometimes, the library can do it in-house, sometimes we pay to have UPS print them for us. Both cost the department money, so we are very careful about our final decisions before printing so as to avoid any mistakes! We made sure to print out the corners and all the imperfections to make the reproductions as faithful to the originals as possible so our audience can experience them as near originals. We also made sure to keep their original sizes and dimensions!

Usually, we mount these posters on foamcore. This is difficult to do ourselves when they’re such large posters, so this is another job for the on-campus UPS! However, as we learned, the paper we print the posters on can be difficult to put on foamcore and tends to wrinkle and make the foamcore bend a little. 

Creating exhibits can be a lot of learning as you go, and in this case, we learned that it’s easier to print directly onto the foamcore! It would be nice, perhaps in the future, to have the materials to have them framed instead of mounted on foamcore. Stretch goals!

4. Hanging and installation


Amy Rushing hanging a poster from the Fred R. Garza Collection (MS 497)



Amy Rushing hanging “Sun Raid” by Esther Hernandez from the Serie Print Project Collection (MS 341). 

Hanging and installing the exhibit required some math skills on our part (neither of our strong suits)!  We had decided to use sticky strips to put up the foamcore on the wall. This worked well for the most part, but we ran into some trouble with them staying up because of their weight. In the future, we might try using wire instead! 

In order to hang the materials at the correct height, there are a couple of steps to follow. First, measure up from the floor 60 inches (which should be average eye height, but depending on the space, you can use your best judgement as long as they are the same!). Next, measure the height of the piece you are hanging and divide that by half to get the middle point. Line up the middle point of the piece with the eye-level point. We used pencil markings on the wall to keep track of these. The final step is putting the adhesive on the back of the poster (we put ours on all four corners and a couple in the middle as well), and then sticking it to the wall using your measuring lines. We used, and we would recommend, using a level at this point when you adhere it to the wall. Then lean your full weight on the corners and it will be well-stuck to the wall!

Now that you have an idea of how we put up this exhibit, please enjoy the exhibit as we can show it here! We hope to open it to the public soon so that we can commemorate the memory and work of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers together!


The finished product at the Westside Community Center! The exhibit spans all four walls and another wall towards the kitchen!




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