[UCLA] Mercedes Dorame: Making Art on Tongva Land

Native American Indigenous artist and UCLA alumna Mercedes Dorame will deliver the keynote address at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture’s 2022 commencement on Saturday, June 11th at 4 p.m.

This will be the first commencement ceremony to be held in-person since 2019.

Dorame is a member of the Tongva people, and her heritage connects her deeply to the landscape of California. Her practice, which encompasses photography, sculptural installations, and sound art, explores what it means to be a Native inhabitant of contemporary Tovaangar (present-day Los Angeles).

Dorame received her undergraduate degree from UCLA in American literature and culture, and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She was included in the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA 2018 biennial exhibition, and in the Fowler Museum’s The Map and the Territory: 100 Years of Collecting at UCLA exhibition in 2021. This past fall, she taught Advanced Photography to undergraduate students in the school’s Department of Art.

While she was a student at UCLA, she studied American Indian literature and culture, including taking a class with Joy Harjo, the first Native American to be U.S. Poet Laureate. At the same time, Dorame worked in cultural resource monitoring at ancestral sites around Southern California. Developers are legally required to bring in a cultural consultant whenever Native belongings, artifacts, or human remains are found.

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