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Talk / Lecture

Vital Matters: Wixárika Ways of Knowing

June 7, 2023 | 12:30PM - 1:30PM



Educator and poeta Cyndy García-Weyandt shares Wixárika ways of knowing and their manifestations in the art of Jose Benítez Sanchez, specifically his untitled nierikate or yarn painting, which depicts the vibrant encounters and kinship ties between more-than-human beings and humans. García-Weyandt will discuss how the Wixárika people maintain reciprocal relationships with more-than-human beings, and follow protocols of co-existence and interaction. Drawing upon Indigenous arts literature and conversations with Wixárika families in the city of Tepic, Mexico, García-Weyandt will examine the yarn painting in detail to unpack how Benítez Sanchez’s narratives and representations of more-than-human beings—their communications, kindships, and rituals—influence contemporary artists and Wixárika peoples’ views of interspecies relations. 

This program is generously supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. 

Cyndy García-Weyandt is an assistant professor of critical ethnic studies at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. Her ancestral homeland is situated in San Juan Sayultepec Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, México. A poeta, immigrant, and first-generation college student, she has earned her BA in anthropology, and her MA and PhD in culture and performance at UCLA. García-Weyandt has taught such courses as “Body, Land and Labor” and “Plant Communication Kinship,” as well as classes that have explored decolonial methods, art activism, race/ethnicity, language revitalization efforts, sources of knowledge, and social change. Her research areas include Indigenous knowledge systems, traditional agricultural practices, urban Indigenous peoples of Mexico, Indigenous art, and performances.

Vital Matters programs explore works that arouse devotion, awe, or serenity; mediate relationships between human and spiritual realms; and are of vital importance to the cultural heritage of individuals and communities. This series will form part of the forthcoming digital initiative Vital Matters—an educational platform for sharing different perspectives on material expressions of belief at the Fowler Museum.

Parking available in UCLA Lot 4, 198 Westwood Plaza, directly off Sunset Blvd; $3/hr or max $15/day. Rideshare drop-off at 305 Royce Dr.

Image credit: José Benítez Sánchez, Untitled, 2005; acrylic yarn, beeswax, wood; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X2013.12.1; Gift of Ronald Lanyi

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