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‘Land as Kin’ explores Southern California through native eyes

The latest exhibit at the Fullerton Museum Center “Land as Kin” features work by native American artists living and working in Southern California. The exhibit recontextualizes the modern landscape through native perspectives.

Curated by Kelly Chidester, the exhibit is part of a multi-venue collaboration between the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton College, Fullerton Museum Center, and CSU Fullerton.

“One Tract Mind” installation by Gerald Clark, Jr.

Gerald Clark Jr., a member of the Cahuilla tribe, explores the loss of ancestral homelands through rampant real-estate development.  His “One Tract Mind” installation features tract homes built over a native landscape. “When the housing crisis happened and a lot of people were getting foreclosed on,” Clark said. “I thought if anyone can relate to what it’s like to lose a home or homeland, it’s an Indian.”

Lewis deSoto, also a member of the Cahuilla tribe, features long panoramic photos of man-made extraction of power (electric and otherwise) from native lands and communities.

Panoramic photograph from Lewis deSoto’s Power series.

Katie Dorame creates collages layering ancient and contemporary images. “In California, you get stuck in a conversation about only the past. I’m always having to tell people, ‘Yes, yes. We’re still here,” Dorame said.

According to the Land as Kin website, “Mercedes Dorame’s work explores her deep connection to the ancestral homelands of Tovaangar. A Native of our shared Orange County region and the village of Hotuuknga where Fullerton lies, Dorame uses photography to examine the profound loss experienced by her people. Through Dorame’s lens, loss is a means to establish permanent records of Indigenous presence in a country that continues to erase Native people. Her work speaks to the potential to reconnect to the lands of personal, spiritual, familial, and cultural significance.”

Artist Mercedes Dorame with her work.

Los Angeles-based artist River Garza mixes ancestral iconography with contemporary issues to comment on issues of identity and representation.

“Due to my tribe’s lack of access to our traditional land base, visual sovereignty, that act of creating work free of the demands of the Western canon becomes a crucial site for the practice of tribal sovereignty and for the perpetuation of our collective memory,” Garza said.

The exhibit features a video/poem entitled “State of the Earth Address” which was composed jointly by Kelly Cabellero and Megan Dorame for the 2020 Hollywood Digital Climate Summit. The poem comments on the potential of native practices to address contemporary problems such as pollution and climate change.

“Land as Kin” at the Fullerton Museum Center (located at 301 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton, 92832) is on display through December 9, 2021. The museum is open Thursdays 12 to 8pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12 to 4pm.

To learn more visit www.landaskin.org.

1 reply »

  1. What a great and powerful exhibit. Thanks for the alert that it is happening. Thursday’s are fun days to visit the museum center because it is open during the downtown farmer’s market and beer and wine garden right next to the museum on Wilshire and Pomona just a block from Harbor – Live music starts at 4:30 I think.