Irene Pérez


Irene Pérez (born 1950) is an artist and cofounder of the Mujeres Muralistas. While her parents hailed from Texas and Zacatecas, Mexico, Pérez grew up in Oakland, California, an experience that shaped her future politics and creative work. The artistic training she received at the Academy of Arts in San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute later served her as she worked on a range of community murals in the Mission District. She executed her first mural in Balmy Alley around 1973. Pérez, in collaboration with other Chicana feminist artists, challenged machismo within the Chicano art movement, and became a pioneer in the community mural movement. Together with Patricia Rodriguez, Graciela Carrillo, and Consuelo Méndez, Pérez cofounded the Mujeres Muralistas, an all-women art collective that defied gendered expectations and norms codified in the Chicano mural movement. The collective’s iconic murals include Latino America (1974) and Fantasy World for Children (1975). The former placed women at the center and reflected the cultural and national diversity of the Mission, while the latter visually addressed the lack of green spaces available for children in the community. In 1994, Pérez once again collaborated with women—Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, and Yvonne Littleton—to create the astounding Maestrapeace mural on the façade of the Women’s Building. Her commitment to liberation for women of color is a consistent theme in her murals, posters, paintings, and other media. As she reflects, “It was all about liberating. It was all about breaking away from what I saw as normal. . . .”

Kevin Cruz Amaya

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Works by Irene Pérez

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