Mujeres Artistas del Suroeste, an art network for Hispanic women in Texas, was founded in Austin in 1977 by artists Santa Barraza and Nora González Dodson. The idea for the network emerged out of the "Encuentro Artístico Femenil" (Women's Artistic Workshop) held at Juárez-Lincoln University in Austin in 1977. The Encuentro was part of a six-week multimedia festival of the arts, funded and organized by the nonprofit Austin organization Women and their Work, which brought together over 600 women artists from all over the state. The Encuentro, organized by Raquel Elizondo and Inés Tovar Hernández, was created specifically to address themes and issues important to Hispanic women artists. One of the subjects discussed was the need to organize a women's art network, and following the conference MAS was created. During its first year, MAS served as a network for both literary and visual artists and functioned as a component of the Cultural Center of the League of United Chicano Artists in Austin. Many MAS members eventually found the alliance with LUChA limiting, so they severed their connection, incorporated themselves, and established a gallery-studio at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue. At this time, members decided to make MAS a network solely for visual artists. The new studio became their meeting place, where they gathered to discuss and critique their work and to plan exhibitions. MAS provided an organizational support structure that assisted its members in the creative process: the artists critiqued each other's works and exchanged information on media and techniques; they exhibited together; and more importantly, they received emotional support from fellow artists, which was crucial in a discipline dominated by men.
MAS sought to enhance the image and professional status of Hispanic women artists, as well as to educate local communities through their exhibitions and special functions. Throughout its existence it organized several important exhibitions, both in and out of Texas, of photography, sculpture, and visual arts. In 1979 MAS organized the Conferencia de Plástica Chicana in Austin, which brought together renowned painters, sculptors, muralists, filmmakers, photographers and art historians from Mexico and the United States. Major MAS exhibits included Voces Mexicanas, at Juárez-Lincoln University (1978); MAS y MAS, at García's Art Gallery in San Antonio (1978); Bésame MAS, at the Xochil Art and Culture Center in Mission (1978–79); Las Compañeras, in Austin (1980); Un Encuentro sin Palabras, in Austin (1980); and Mujeres de Texas, at Mars Studio, Phoenix, Arizona (1985). The artists who exhibited under the banner of MAS reflected a variety of styles, from abstract expressionism to social realism, and their concerns ranged from the political to the supernatural. Most members resided in Austin, San Antonio, and Laredo; the most prominent members or exhibitors included Alicia Arredondo, Santa Barraza, Carolina Flores, María Flores, Alice D. Montemayor, Sylvia Orozco, Carmen Rodríguez, and Modesta Barbina Treviño. When several members left Texas in the mid-1980s in search of better career opportunities, MAS did not renew its corporation status and ceased to exist.