The strands of my rich cultural heritage were not woven together to create an intricate tapestry of strong traditions and identity. They were left lying in the harsh light of the American dream— bleached to a chalky confusion that feels ultimately American. I look at my face, and I see the deep black eyes of my Mexican mother, the full face and round cheeks of my Haida grandmother, and the pale skin of the ancestors who settled on Indigenous land in the Americas. Blood is an inseparable mix that weaves worlds together. I cannot claim that I belong to any culture completely. As I trace the story of my heritage back through the generations that came before me, I find that intangible culture persists in spite of pressures to expunge Indigenous ties and assimilate.
This work is a suite of paintings, painted monotypes and collage that looks at my fragmented identity as a tribal citizen of the Haida three generations after a residential boarding school fractured my great-grandmother’s, and her descendants, connection with culture. The work incorporates elements of traditional Northwest Coast formline design used in formats that depart from tradition. It makes direct connections to the culture and discusses themes that relate specifically to ancestral oratories, intergenerational trauma, connection to land, and finding a sense of belonging in the threads of culture extended to me from my ancestors. Shapes are removed from the guiding systems and laid unanchored, together to create imagery that speaks to the fragmentation and longing to be held by the customs and land that held my Haida ancestors since time immemorial.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
KRFO (Kimberly Renee Fulton Orozco) is a multidisciplinary investigator and producer of storytelling projects. She works as a freelance artist, photography producer, and writer in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a BFA candidate in Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking at Georgia State University and a student of Museum Studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is of Mexican, Haida, and Anglo descent and grew up in California’s Mojave Desert.
Kimberly’s work is rooted in connection to the stories of her ancestors, the Kaigani Haida of Southeast Alaska. She has studied Northwest Coast Art Theory under Stephen Jackson Polys and Northwest Coast design under David R. Boxley by way of Sealaska Heritage Institute and the University of Alaska Southeast. She recently worked as the primary researcher and producer for the photo essay “Inspiring Awe in Alaska” for Smithsonian Magazine.
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