Mercedes Dorame

Offering to Olvido is a personal exploration of Native Tongva ceremony in effort to overcome periods of darkness. As a tribal member of the Tongva people, it enables my resistance to institutional erasure. “Olvido” is a concept I encountered while studying Spanish, defined as “a place where you put things wished to be forgotten.” The concept of having a tangible place to physically place trauma in order for it to no longer exist inspired this project. Using this idea, I will create my interpretation of a contemporary Tongva ceremonial space where viewers can offer trauma, sadness, memories or other sources of pain to Olvido.

In this moment in history, I grapple with how to resist the assaults on marginalized people and the environment. I am inspired by my ancestors and what they did in times of darkness: offer prayers, sing and fight for survival. This installation will empower myself, other artists and the broader community by creating a tangible place to gather and offer away pain. The final form of the installation will consist of a round structure 12 feet in diameter, a receptacle for offerings, and walls covered with photographs of our tribal land of Los Angeles.

Mercedes Dorame, born in Los Angeles, received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and her BA from UCLA. Dorame recently participated in the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA 2018 and her work is in the permanent collections at the Hammer, SFMoMA, the Triton, Allen Memorial Art Museum, de Saisset Museum, Montblanc Foundation Collection, and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum. A selection of grants and fellowships include: the Montblanc Art Commission, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the James Phelan Award, En Foco, Galería de la Raza, the Harpo Foundation and SFAI.