Context Library Series

The University Library's Spring 2024 Context Exhibit features Monica Zavala's evocative collection, 'Wee 'Eyoohiinkem (Tongva), "All Our Relatives." Zavala's collection of paintings intimately captures the hands of the American Indian people and kinship alike engaged in cultural richness. Each painting reflects the authentic lives of individuals involved in everyday life around Monica's journey, generously sharing their talents, traditions, and history. 

Monica, although Tongva, was raised on the homelands of the Luiseño territories and works close with surrounding tribes such as the Kumeyaay, Cahuilla, Serrano, and many more throughout California. She is connected on a personal level with people of all backgrounds, ages, tribal affilitions, and importance. 

Within Monica's artwork, hands emerge as a central and important element, serving as main characters of her storytelling. They hold the power to convey narratives and identities without the need to reveal a face. Through details such as age-etched wrinkles, decorated tattoos, expressive jewelry, and the subjext within those hands, Monica breathes fire into her paintings. 

For Monica, these hands are a profound means of communicating that our ancestors endure with us, their legacy persisting in our rich history. By focusing on this intricate aspect, she not only shares a unique narrative but also underscores the resilience of the cultural heritage. 

In this vibrant collection, the hands showcased a wide variety of traditions. From the artistry of beading the craft of tule boat making, the completion of playing peon, the sailing on a tomol, the singing with gourd rattles, to the good medicine of bird dancing - each painting becomes a celebration of the diverse and enduring traditions that shape the American Indian Experience. 

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Need Help? Contact . . . 

Irma Ramos Arreaga

Outreach & Inclusion Librarian


Office Location: 

KEL 3306

Office Hours: 

By appointment