Human Nature: Indigenous Knowledge and the California Landscape

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How do culture and ecology merge in the California landscape? In conjunction with the Autry Museum of the American West’s exhibition Human Nature, artworxLA students will explore the ongoing and interdependent relationships between people and the environment. California recently experienced the longest period of drought and the largest wildfires in the state’s history. Keeping these present-day dilemmas in mind, artworxLA students will learn about traditional ecological knowledge acquired by indigenous and local peoples over generations of interaction with the environment. How can Native knowledge help current residents understand and care for the environment? Drawing on a combination of Native cultural materials, firsthand perspectives, and contemporary artwork, we will focus on four key California stories—Salmon, Fire, Desert, and Plants. Then, artworxLA students will create works that celebrate our interconnectedness with the environment and illuminate both traditional practices and the environmental issues facing Californians today.