Monday, December 27, 2010

A Creative Life: The Art of L. Frank Manriquez

The Bowl Twists by L. Frank Manriquez

Sometimes in life we are lucky to come across people who make us stop and think, and appreciate our surroundings, history, and experiences on a deeper level. Artist L. Frank Manriquez is just such a person. Her strength and creativity extends to so many realms, from visual arts and storytelling, to singing, weaving, gardening, and preserving the rich history of California's Native Americans.
Condor Time I by L. Frank Manriquez

L. Frank is from Southern California and belongs to the Tongva and Ajachmem tribes. A tribal scholar and self-described "decolonizationist", she is a Board Member of the California Indian Basketweavers Association (which does awesome stuff like making sure that parents of adopted Indian children receive the handwoven baskets babies were traditionally carried in), and co-founder of Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival. She has a wonderful way of making folklore and history come to life with her engaging stories and extensive knowledge. Her colorful paintings have been featured in galleries and museums nationally and internationally. This Is Yo Luck by L. Frank Manriquez

Manriquez also cultivates an extensive garden at her Sonoma County home. She lives on nearly a half acre of land in Santa Rosa, and has three gardens: one for growing basket weaving materials, herbs, and medicinal plants, another for vegetables, and a cactus garden. She grows corn, butternut squash, radishes, onions, lettuce, acorns, and watermelons. The garden also produces many fruits, including blueberries, Santa Rosa plums, raspberries, and blackberries. "Gardening makes it necessary to value a season's passing," she says. "[It's] not something somebody tells you; it is something that you learn for yourself. It is not as technical as people think. It is an emotional relationship, it's all about how you feel." L. Frank is passionate about sustainable living, and builds straw bale and waddle and cob buildings.

One of the things L. Frank is best known for is her "Acorn Soup" cartoon, which appears in News From Native California. The cartoon features the adventures of Coyote, who is the mischievous trickster of Native American folklore. Coyote is also the subject of many of L. Frank's paintings. Female Coyote by L. Frank Manriquez

Stop the Dance by L. Frank Manriquez

Many of Manriquez's paintings are of animals, and contain symbols of nature and spirit. A core theme in her work is respect for the land and those we share it with, and showing appreciation for the animals, plants, and people whose homeland we are guests of wherever we go.
Not to give the cockroach a bad name by L. Frank Manriquez

In addition to her works on canvas, L. Frank paints murals, creates jewelry, photography, and weavings. The mixed media installation in the above photo reflects her wry sense of humor. Most recently she was part of a workshop at this year's Bioneers Conference focusing on "native efforts to revitalize indigenous watercraft and navigation systems as a way to restore indigenous knowledge and address climate disruption."
L. Frank Manriquez is a powerful force for good. She has done so much to preserve Native American history and culture, and constantly expresses her deep knowledge in new and different ways. She is an inspiring example of how we can preserve and share our traditions.

For more about L. Frank and her work: