Where Art-Making Provides Vision of the Future

TANA art studio, Woodland, CA. UC Davis Chicano studies
An active art studio at TANA.

The faded blue metal warehouse on a side street in Woodland does not look like much. But inside Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer (TANA), it is anything but dull. The walls are covered with bright artwork, and young people are laying down ink and making art. 

“TANA is a collaboration with the Woodland community,” said Maceo Montoya, TANA director and assistant professor of the UC Davis Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. “We aren’t just creating artists, but providing an opportunity for their imaginations to grow and to see their future expand.”

TANA, part of the Chicana/o studies department, was founded in 2009 by Professor Emeritus Malaquias Montoya (Maceo’s father) and Carlos Jackson, now Chicana/o studies department chair. 

Each quarter four UC Davis students serve as interns at Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer (Art Workshop of the New Dawn). When intern Eddie Lampkin was still at Woodland High School, he took part in a mural project led by Maceo Montoya.

“I was in a slump and idle hands are not a good thing, especially in a small place like Woodland,” said Lampkin, a transfer student from Sacramento City College who is majoring in Chicana/o studies and history. “When TANA opened I was the first one in the door.” 

The interns must have taken the Chicana/o studies poster workshop course that was started by Malaquias Montoya in the 1970s at UC Berkeley and moved to UC Davis in 1989. Poster art that melded strong visual imagery with equally strong social and political content was an important part of the Chicano arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s. So were community arts workshops known as talleres. TANA focuses on silk screening, a commercial printing process developed in the early 20th century that was taken up by fine artists in the 1960s.

A great deal of TANA’s interaction is with the Latino community, which in Woodland is about 50 percent of the population. Many interns have backgrounds similar to the 100 or so high school students they work with each year. TANA recently began offering college credit art classes through Woodland Community College.  

Along with making art, those who attend TANA learn about their own and the wider world’s history. TANA has also become a part of the larger Woodland community. At art show openings, the building is packed with young adults, parents, grandparents and children looking at the art, listening to music and eating.

“People feel this is a place they can send their children to and a place they are welcome,” said Maceo Montoya, who lives in Woodland. “We feel TANA  is part of UC Davis being responsive to the region.”

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science