The Artist as Eyewitness: Antonio Bernal Papers, 1884–2019 is the first survey of the life and work of Antonio Bernal. Bernal is often identified as a muralist—his 1968 mural in Del Rey, California, has been cited as the first Chicano mural—yet his career has been wide-ranging. He has been a union organizer and an iconoclastic educator; an actor and author; and an artist of paintings and collage as well as murals. All have been shaped by Bernal’s unwavering political viewpoint and commitment to truth telling.
The Antonio Bernal Papers, a special collection at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, supported the research presented in The Artist as Eyewitness. Essays by Gabriela Rodriguez-Gomez and Miguel Samano assess Bernal’s murals, situating them within the historical, political, and cultural frameworks of the Chicano movement. Samano also offers an analysis of Bernal’s unpublished novel, Breaking the Silence. Charlene Villaseñor Black presents a biography of Bernal and short introductions to reproductions of his artwork and a selection of his writings. The volume concludes with a bibliography and a finding aid for the CSRC collection, which contains personal correspondence, personal writings, photographs, and audiovisual materials that document Bernal’s travels, artwork, and family history.