The first of its kind in approach and scope, LA Plaza’s inaugural exhibition, LA Starts Here!, examines Mexican and Mexican American history and identity in Los Angeles. Iconic artifacts, one-of-a-kind interactive experiences, and captivating films reveal the region’s rich and often unknown history as a multicultural project from its very beginnings. Visitors of all backgrounds are encouraged to think critically about the shaping of cultural and national identity in an increasingly diverse world.
Exploring the city’s origins from a dusty outpost of the Spanish Empire to a contemporary global metropolis, visitors encounter the range of historical identities that have emerged in Los Angeles, become aware of the events and conditions by which these identities were shaped, and appreciate the complexity of the lives that have created a shared history. Identity is revealed as fluid, evolving, and sometimes even contradictory. As the voices of the past and present intermingle, history’s echoes are heard shaping today and the future.
Your visit begins with a poetic and engaging introduction to identity, people, and place. The next section, “Gente de Razón,” introduces Spanish life on the northern frontier. “Californios” explores the ranchos and the unique regional culture that developed under Mexican rule. “Mexicanos” reveals life in California under the United States flag. “Inmigrantes” illuminates the great migration to the U.S. that occurred during the Mexican Revolution, and “Mexican Americans” looks at a new generation of citizens. “Chicanos” explores cultural nationalism and the new activism, while “Latinas” explores the new migration and globalization. The final section, “Nuestro Futuro,” is a provocative look at both the present and the years to come.
By probing what it has meant and means to be Mexican American, the exhibition will shine a new and important light upon the birth, growth, and future of the multifaceted and ever-changing City of Angels.
Beating at the heart of the exhibition are Voces Vivas. These short films, based upon personal interviews conducted specifically for LA Plaza, feature a broad spectrum of Mexican and Mexican Americans sharing their personal histories. Personal, opinionated, and provocative, Voces Vivas bring history to life, enriching our understanding of Mexican and Mexican American history and culture in Los Angeles. To learn more, visit the Voces Vivas page.