School of Art faculty Mercedes Dorame captures the splendor of the natural world in Mercedes Dorame: Where Sky Touches Water, an exhibition of new and recent work running from Thursday, Feb. 8 through Saturday, April 20 at OXY ARTS, the arts hub of Occidental College in Los Angeles.
Featuring photography and sculpture, Where Sky Touches Water “explore[s] the liminal spaces of our ecological environment as gateways and portals to consider alternate realms.” The exhibition, which marks the culmination of Dorame’s residency at OXY ARTS, is inspired by her research on Pimugna (Catalina Island) and Limuw (Santa Cruz Island). Much of the research is derived from Dorame’s time in the inaugural cohort of women photographers for Unseen California, an arts platform initiative founded by fellow alum Karolina Karlic (Art MFA 10) through the University of California Natural Reserve System (UCNRS). Dorame selected the islands in part due to her Tongva heritage.
“My art is an expression of many overlays of experience, of moving through the land and sky as a Indigenous person, being called a trespasser on my homelands and reconciling how to work through these experiences in an empowered way,” said Dorame. “I ask that we remember the ground we walk on, and who the original caretakers are, and I also remind us to look up. I collaborate with the earth and the cosmos to remove First People from the past tense and reimagine our decolonized sovereign future.”
Dorame is a Los Angeles-based artist who invokes her Tongva heritage to “engage the problematics of (in)visibility and ideas of cultural construction.” Her work resides in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Triton Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, and the de Saisset Museum, among others, and is currently on display at the Getty Museum for its inaugural Rotunda Series. Dorame is a 2020 Creative Capital Grant awardee and the 2018 honoree of the Montblanc Art Collection’s Artist Commission Program.