NEWSHOUR ART BEAT: ‘We, as a people, still exist’ — artist illuminates Native American history with family photos
In 2009, artist Mercedes Dorame received a gift from her father — a CD filled with images of her family, some of whom she had never seen before. It was a new window into the history of her family, members of the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe who had for generations been based in present-day Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
Shortly after she received those family photos, Dorame began to project those images onto different locations in her apartment and then photograph each composition. The result is “Living Proof,” a series of photos that brings her family’s history directly into her present-day environment.
Dorame, now based in Los Angeles, said the work is part of an effort to illuminate the survival of her tribe’s culture amid a historical legacy of violence toward Native Americans in the U.S., including land theft, kidnapping and forced assimilation. She said her grandparents rarely spoke of their heritage until later in life.
“It’s really hard to acknowledge the gaps in your own history,” Dorame said. “It’s hard to acknowledge that there are these kind of holes and places that you don’t know how to fill it in.”