Celebrating the Fluidity of Indigenous Knowledge and Artistry


Norine Holguin

8/23/20232 min read

The "Iridescence of Knowing" is a groundbreaking exhibition that will take place between September 14 - November 18, 2023. The exhibit invites visitors to delve into the rich heritage of Indigenous cultural production in Tovaangar, the region known today as the greater Los Angeles basin. This exhibition, curated by Mercedes Dorame and Joel Garcia, showcases a collection of works from a diverse group of artists representing multiple generations and various First Peoples communities of Southern California. The artists, including Weshoyot Alvitre, Theresa Ambo, Jessa Calderon, and many others, challenge the conventional boundaries between "craft" and "fine art," highlighting the intergenerational transmission of culture, the importance of lineage, and the deep connections between cultural tradition and contemporary artistic practices.

A Fluid Perspective

Indigenous cultures often view ancestral histories through a multifaceted lens—ecological, spiritual, oral, and cosmological. The concept of iridescence encapsulates this fluid, reflective, and ever-evolving nature of understanding, serving as a potent metaphor for the transformative and dynamic qualities of knowledge. At the core of this exhibition is the concept of weaving, both as a physical technique crucial to Indigenous craft and as a symbolic concept representing the intangible essence of transgenerational cultural memory that bridges time and space. Weaving, in this context, serves as a powerful symbol that accommodates different modalities of artistic expression and fosters a circular expansion of ideas that move beyond traditional linear narratives of time. Contemporary approaches to making are thus intricately woven with generational ones, holding refractions of influence and celebrating the vibrant presence of both the past and present in the current creative landscape.

A Space for Reflection and Dialogue

The "Iridescence of Knowing" provides a space for reflection, dialogue, and celebration of artistic traditions. It encourages visitors to explore the embodied relationship between physical objects and the realms of generational energy they contain. It also invites contemplation of ways in which cultural traditions can be sustained, evolve, and remain relevant in the present and for future generations.

Acknowledging the Land and Its Original Caretakers

OXY ARTS, the organization hosting the exhibition, acknowledges its presence on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples. It pays respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), 'Ahiihirom (Elders), and 'Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present, and emerging.


The "Iridescence of Knowing" is more than just an art exhibition; it is a celebration of the fluidity of Indigenous knowledge and a testament to the resilience and creativity of Indigenous artists in Southern California. By showcasing works that blur the lines between craft and fine art, and by creating a space for reflection and dialogue, the exhibition invites visitors to engage with Indigenous cultural traditions in a meaningful way and to consider how these traditions can be carried forward into the future.


“The Iridescence of Knowing.” The Iridescence of Knowing | OXY ARTS, oxyarts.oxy.edu/exhibitions/iridescence-knowing

Related Stories