Art pieces from All Our Relatives exhibit


Monica Zavala

‘Wee ‘Eyoohiinkem (Tongva), "All Our Relatives," is an evocative collection of paintings that intimately captures the hands of the American Indian people engaged in the cultural richness that expresses their kinship. Each painting serves as a reflection of the authentic lives of individuals involved in everyday activities, who have contributed to  Monica’s journey, generously sharing their talents, traditions, and history.

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

Within Monica's artwork, hands emerge as a central and important element, serving as the 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, decorative tattoos, expressive jewelry, and the strength within those hands, Monica breathes life into her paintings.

For Monica, these hands are a profound means of communicating that our ancestors endure within 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 her subjects’ cultural heritage.

In this vibrant collection, the hands showcase a wide variety of traditions. From the artistry of beading, the craft of tule boat making, the competition 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.