Chaz Bojorquez

podcast / president
April 08, 2020
Produced by Christine Spines

Change Lab Episode 35

Graffiti artist Chaz Bojorquez on straddling the street and the Smithsonian

This episode of Change Lab happens to be the last one of this season and we’ll resume again, as usual, in the fall. And though it wasn’t planned this way, it’s hard to think of an interview more timely or better suited to demonstrating the strength of the creative spirit to transcend expectations, assumptions and challenges than this one with Chaz Bojorquez, aka the Godfather of Graffiti.

graffiti artist Chaz Bojorquez

It took ten years for me to tell myself that graffiti was an artform

Chaz Bojorquez
Photo of Chaz Bojorquez working on graffiti atwork on a wall

There are few art world honors as coveted as having a piece of work included in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. Likewise, in the pop culture universe, not many artists can claim to have their own special edition line of Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers.

Chaz can claim both of those achievements and many more.

A native of East Los Angeles, Chaz merged his tandem passions for creative forms of socio-political protest, underground comics and the Chicano muralist movement into a signature style that has influenced his widespread popularity and established prestige now, finally, attributed to street art.

After Chaz visited ArtCenter last fall to deliver a talk about the role of graffiti in creating cultural unity, I was taken by the power of his wisdom and his work. In fact, we were all so impressed with his accomplishments that we decided to award him an honorary doctorate at our Spring commencement ceremony (which was sadly postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis). But we did have the opportunity to sit down together in early February to reflect on his remarkable career that blurs the boundaries between high art and street art, calligraphy and graffiti, popular and alternative culture.

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