Breaking Boundaries: The Multilayered Value of Charles Bojorquez's Graffiti Art from 1969 to 2019


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Beginning in 1969, Charles “Chaz” Bojorquez created large scale ephemeral image and text-based paintings using a large stencil, spray paint, and calligraphy. This research inquiry focuses on the fragmentation, reproduction, and circulation processes of Bojorquez's 1975 painting Señor Suerte, featuring an uncanny skeleton with two writing columns. Señor Suerte was first produced on a public wall surface. Tattoos of the skeleton that occur in a secondary social register remain distinguished from paintings on canvas that circulate in the third register of the art market. The operation of Bojorquez is a singular and significant case where the production of symbolic capital (as art in museums and galleries) remains differentiated from the appropriation, value-formation, and circulation of images in the spaces of marginality and exclusion of the working-class Mexican-American experience. Visual analysis, oral history interviews, and archival research provide a critical reading of Bojorquez's avant-garde temporalities and significance to American art.