River Garza

River T. Garza, born 1994, is an Indigenous interdisciplinary visual artist. Garza is Tongva, Mexican, and a member of Ti’at Society. His work draws on traditional Tongva aesthetics, Southern California Indigenous maritime culture, Chicano culture, Mexican art, graffiti, skateboarding, and lowrider art. Garza often explores the intersection of Tongva and Chicano/Mexican identity, history, and culture through his art practice. His work can be found in permanent and private collections. In Garza’s own words:

My artistic practice is inseparable from my Tongva heritage. I am an amalgamation of centuries of resistance, forced assimilation, and resettlement and my work reflects those disjointments of memory, tradition, and identity. My practice focuses on how differential treatment under settler governments construct Indigenous identities. I employ physical layers of cultural artifacts in my work, such as oil, spray paint, pen, and Western magazine cutouts which integrate Tongva ancestral iconography and contemporary experiences.

My work acts as a critique of settler capitalism while exploring how the literal and metaphoric layers of colonialism add weight to contemporary Indigenous identity that is both painful and a source of creativity. Visual sovereignty is another critical aspect of my practice. Due to my tribe’s lack of access to our traditional land base, visual sovereignty, the act of creating work free of the demands of the Western canon, becomes a crucial site for the practice of tribal sovereignty and for the perpetuation of our collective memory. Through artifacts and artificial physical landscapes, I create sites that are sacred spaces and begin to reclaim Tongva sovereignty and provide an imagined future where my people can exercise their full rights as original peoples of this land.

IVDM is excited to be exhibiting three of Garza’s recently created mixed media works, as part of Native Voices | Native Truths: A Contemporary Experience.

More of Garza’s work can be found on his Instagram @riverg_studio and website at rivergarza.com.

Self portrait with cherubs, 2023

acrylic, marker, spray paint, color pencil and pastel on paper

22 in x 30 in

This is a self portrait painted within the last few months, portraiture is a large part of my practice. The image is me thinking about my significant other.

Coyote With Paddle, 2017

acrylic, spray paint, marker, and color pencil on paper

20 in x 26 in

This work depicts the coyote wearing a traditional grass skirt and carrying a paddle. This image is particularly important because it is the first time, I painted a coyote and it has since become a dominant theme in my practice.

Coyote in Red, 2022

acrylic, spray paint and marker on canvas

24 in x 24 in 

This painting is another in my series of coyotes.