Sarah Biscarra-Dilley

Ramona
Mixed media, assemblage
11.5 x 17.5”
2007
Work in Exhibition:

Ramona
Mixed media, assemblage
11.5 x 17.5”
2007
(Close-up and gallery view)

The installation spawned from a word I happened upon during my first lesson in the Samala Chumash language, saxtalaqwa'y, a word meaning “to remember, not forget.” I was moved by its familiarity and strength, its pronunciation sounding like a memory.

The installation revolves around lineage, ancestry and the presence of third and fourth genders in California Native cultures. I use traditional and contemporary basketry, brush and ink illustration, assemblage and other fiber arts to create literal portraits of queer cultural ancestors known to me as well as symbolic or interpretive portraits of those whose names have been lost to my generation. It emphasizes the understanding of a non-linear chronology, a personal understanding of “Indian Time”, embodying a cyclical or simultaneous experience of time through its construction and arrangement. I document the difficulties of tracing the history of a colonized people; their stories, in my family's case, only surviving through mission records and the words of a few elders passed down.The work explores the appreciation I have for the oral histories I have absorbed throughout my life as well as the bittersweet interactions with history told through the perspective of the colonizer. In my work, I inquire into the ways colonization is dependent on cultural amnesia and the cultural shifts that take place as a result of that amnesia. Through this installation, comprised of mixed mediums, I aspire to embody the complexity of my own experience as well as those of people who came before me.

-- Sarah Biscarra-Dilley