Festival de Mujeres Part 1 by Nicole Marroquin

“Festival De Mujeres,” June 30, 1979, by Eleanor Boyer and Karen Peugh. It was originally shot using U-matic 3/4 inch video. and It features several interviews and shots of the streets in Pilsen, and is essential viewing for those interested in Chicanx/Latinx, feminist and immigrant organizing in the midwest. For one thing, this features Salima Rivera reading a scorching poem about Pilsen gentrification, so hold on to your hat, because she goes hard. There is also an interview with Malu` Ortega y Alberro, famed muralist and art educator, describing her program at the Casa Aztlan, and the mural she is about to paint on Benito Juarez Academy High School, which had just opened. This festival was organized with Mujeres Latinas en Accion, the anti-domestic-violence organization that was started by women in Pilsen. 

This video is so remarkable on it's own, but after meeting with Eleanor Boyer and learning more from her as we worked together, I think this needs a dedicated blog post. 

Also, the artist Diana Solis was at the Festival, and her documentation of Eleanor and Karen making this video, her photos of women for the t-shirt (seen in the thumbnail above) and stories of the event deserve a dedicated entry, too.  Both are coming up.  

(from the Media Burn website) “Festival De Mujeres,” June 30, 1979, by Eleanor Boyer and Karen Peugh. Color video. Documentary about a women”s festival in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. A woman reads several of her poems, one is an ode to Pilsen, another dedicated to women searching for their sons after the Allende government was overthrown. There are silkscreening and ceramics workshops, plus art activities for kids, and booths selling posters and t-shirts. Many women’s advocacy groups are represented as well, giving information on violence against women, health care, etc. Traditional Mexican foods are sold as well, such as pineapple water. The tape closes with a poem read in Spanish over still photographs of the festival.



Froebel: Ethnography of an Urban School (1974) by Nicole Marroquin

Bishop III, Ralph John, (1974) Froebel: Ethnography of an Urban School. Retrieved from Northwestern University 2014. 

If you want to know about Froebel, you should read this dissertation by Ralph Bishop written between 1972-74 for his PhD in anthropology at Northwestern. I got it via interlibrary-loan. It's 285 typed pages including a huge number of photos and several hand drawn diagrams. He diagrams a school dance, breaks down the ethnic groups in fine detail, and documents the complicated lives of students who attended Froebel for one year.  I'm not always fond of his evaluations of the students or his editorials on the quality of teaching or why students are not paying attention (or lighting fires in lockers) but his writing is mostly generous and full of amazing nuggets of information. What is most important to me is that he was at the school on the day of the uprising and made documentation both inside and outside of the school that day. 

A view from outside looking in, and a view from inside the school as riot cops round up the protesters.  (from Bishop, 1974)

A view from outside looking in, and a view from inside the school as riot cops round up the protesters.  (from Bishop, 1974)

Some of the everyday-life photos are lovely and important.  He also documented the car wash fundraiser, which is the same carwash that is in Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family.  It must have been pretty strange to the students to have 2 sets of graduate students documenting them during that carwash. 

Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family by Nicole Marroquin

Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family is a documentary film about a working class Mexican-American family dealing with the stresses of maintaining their cultural heritage in the face of the dominant Anglo society.

This 1973  film by Susan Stechnij provides essential context for anyone interested in Pilsen and the surrounding, Casa Aztlan, schools or the incidents at Froebel, Harrison and the fight for Benito Juarez High School.  At the center is Lola Navarro and her children. (Chuy Garcia and Rudy Lozano Sr. say introduced them to activism. We should all know her name! More on Lola Navarro to come.) Read more about this film and the filmmaker here on the Chicago Film Archive website! 

Stechnij, who was a member of MARCH (Movimiento Artisitico de la Raza Chicano) wrote a masters thesis after completing the film, and it details the community editing process, which took place at the Casa Aztlan.  This is exactly what it sounds like, and if you are interested in community responsive cultural production and collaboration, check it out. 

Stecjnij thesis call number

Stechnij and her partner Santiago Boiton were activists, and Boiton can be seen shouting down members of the Chicago Board of Education in the film. Their names also appear in I found Susan on FB and reached out to her, and she responded!  

With any film editing process, a lot of the footage did not make it into the film, but this film was edited by community consensus, which makes viewing the outtakes even richer. The amazing people at the Chicago Film Archives have preserved AND digitized 90 minutes of the silent outtakes. I presented all of the outtakes for 2 months during my residency at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2017. The outtakes feature Stechnij herself, but there are also important historical events like a UFW protest at A&P on Kedzie, and some sweet moments with Rudy Lozano and Lola Navarro with kids hanging around in front of the Casa Aztlan.  Major thanks to Brian Bielak at CFA for his expertise and patience.