The What Tribe project…created and curated by Douglas Miles of Apache Skateboards…began as a response to perpetuated stereotypes and racism in American main stream media against Native American people.
What began as platform to discuss and counter attack false portrayals against Native people..in my personal opinion, has grown into and beyond.. a larger discussion about race and stereotypes against all people as well as a conversation on social identity and most importantly the contrasts between social statuses…the ascribed vs the achieved…the wealthy and systematic power vs a balance of intense and humble struggles and survival among(all)people. Having the opportunity to showcase specific works of art in a place like the legendary Self Help Graphics was and is an honor. It was also a privelage to leave behind a gift of art by painting an outdoor mural.
The day after the opening, a discussion took place and hearing the frustrations, optimism and different perspectives by people during a round table discussion at the venue(Chicano, Meshika, Mexican, Mexican American, Indigenous etc)living in LA...showed the similarities of everyday struggles and triumphs that parallel those of Indigenous people living on Reservations. A mentality of tribalism exists the same as it does anywhere...with people living by certain codes of Respect, pride and loyalty to where they live and where they come from. A strong beauty and balance. No need for gains of pretentious abundance and material possessions. Something I can hear my own grandmother saying over and over again as we were growing up..."No need to live beyond simple means, we are a simple and humble people, we dont need to make a spectacle of ourselves in public. We only need to do our very best each day". Words of wisdom and truth.
The need for education and knowledge is the greatest social achievement…and is one way to uplift and empower the people back to their feet. To shed truth and light about the way worlds work and why we can and have the infinite potential to make our own world. Finding common ground and acknowledging situation and place. With the platform to speak, express and relate by creating art.. is an extremely potent and complex way of communication. Mental and physical barriers fade away once people begin to let go and unplug from an illusionary reality and get back to the state conscious being.
Once again...The power of creation/The power of art: I cant say this enough.. Art is a weapon, a tool, a resource…a way to engage with communities and identify itself on a physical and metaphysical levels. In East LA and the greater Los Angeles area…Graffiti has been the purest form and tactic whether its messengers realize it or not. It has a time and place and although not all graffiti speaks in those tones, it is a perfect way for people not questioning other forms of graffiti such as product advertisement as psychological manipulation..to possibly and hopefully reconsider what is placed in front of them daily.
In a country and society where people are born and taught to follow directions and ask no questions...art may not the end all be all, but remains a tool, when used and viewed properly will and can provoke new thought and question an existence. Do your best daily. Also question your existence daily.
Big respect and thank yous to all who participated and or contributed or supported in some way: Katie Beltran, Avis Charley, Jazmine Rozales,Douglas Miles, Eriberto Oriol, Mike Miller, Joel Rage One Garcia, Vyal Reyes, Angel Diaz, Werewulf Micah Wesley, Renelle White Buffalo, Luke Dorsett, Jonathan Nelson, Fishe One LTS KOG, Defer K2S, Plek UTI, Estevan Oriol, Erwin Recinos, L.A.Taco, Evonne Gallardo, Dewey Tafoya, Joe Apulche, Stephen Siaz, El Mac, Jimmy Oballes, Rosalind McGeary and everyone else who came through.