In 2018 I was given the opportunity to create an installation as an exhibition of my own work at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro. The exhibition coincided with the 14th Many Winters Gathering of Elders, an Indigenous cultural event that had previously taken place at Angels Gate on 13 separate occasions since 1992. I decided to organize and curate two other exhibitions simultaneously: In A Good Way: A Survey Of Gatherings 1992-2017 and What Does Your Land Mean To You?: Photographs Of Coastal Southern California Indigenous People By Tom Gugler. All three exhibitions addressed the Gathering and the location of Angels Gate Cultural Center.
"Coming Into Being: Gathering the Elder in Me is an installation by multimedia artist and curator Laurie Steelink. Drawing on her Native American ancestry, the show combines photographs, paintings, drawings, and video, with ephemera, artworks and photographs from her family’s collection and works by other artists from her personal collection. Steelink regards the project as a kind of anthropological inquiry into herself and the past bodies of work she’s produced; in re-contextualizing these works, the old and the new take on different meanings.
A member of Arizona’s Akimel O’otham Tribe, Steelink was born in 1960 and given up for adoption by her birth mother. At six-months old she became the child of Jean and Cornelius Steelink, Euro-Americans, and staunch liberals who came from a long line of revolutionaries, Wobblies, Civil Rights activists, scientists, and artists. Steelink was aware of her Native American ancestry, and coming of age in a mixed-race family, in an academic, middle class environment, left her grappling with identity issues that she’s finally beginning to resolve. At the age of forty, Steelink located and met her birth mother and Akimel O’otham relatives, and has become an active member of Southern California’s Indigenous community."