First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 75

LEAH MATA-FRAGUA feathers. And that’s for their own use, not to sell to outsiders. rural or remote areas, can speak back to the mainstream. LMF: Globally, Indigenous people are having this conversation. These are complex issues that I feel uncomfortable trying to answer myself. I need to have a discussion with my community about these things and ask what direction we’re going to go in. And every community, because we’re all sovereign and different, will have different responses. If somebody wants to use straws and have that incorpo- rated in their dances, it’s that community’s sovereign right to do so. A lot of times I see people criticizing communities as being less authentic when, actually, people no longer have access to some of their materials. LMF: There are two things I want my art to do: talk about climate change and lack of access and bring greater awareness to Indigenous California. AM: And who gets to dictate? It is exciting that communities can speak up on their own behalf to a global audience, and Native people, even from extremely AM: If readers are unfamiliar with Indigenous California, what are some resources you would recommend if they want to learn more? LMF: The best thing is to look at tribal websites. Those come from the commu- nity; the tribes have created their own websites. AM: What projects are you working on now or planning? LMF: Recently I got a grant to revitalize our feather dance belts, so I’m working on that, and then I’m working on Chumash steatite sculptures. This is just a natural trajectory because of my studio space, but historically, Chumash people carved whales and sea animals. I saw a lot of the carvings at the Smithsonian—hundreds of them. I was looking at a scrap pile [in Cliff ’s studio], and I thought, Well, every- thing is here. I might as well carve because the tools are here. It’s a way to help me transition as there’s less shell. Basketry material is becoming harder to get, but it’s still available much more than shell is. But Cliff has what seems like an endless supply of stone scraps. I could carve forever. Leah Mata-Fragua’s artwork can be found at Rainmaker Gallery in Bristol, England; the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art Museum Store in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Raven Makes Gallery in Sisters, Oregon. LEAHMATA.COM SPRING 2019 | 73