Information provided by photographer and documentarian Kirti Bassendine. This news release has been updated with a more recent version.

Renowned photographer and documentarian Kirti Bassendine unveils her latest exhibition “Contemporary Indigenous Voices of California’s South Coast Range”, a revolutionary project showcasing photography and short films of elders and culture-bearers from tribal nations, councils, and communities along California’s Southern Coast Range: the San Francisco peninsula, East and South Bay through the Santa Cruz mountains, Monterey Bay, Gavilan and Santa Lucia Mountains, and lower Salinan Valley.

Bassendine’s photographs are accompanied by powerful personal statements from Native community members calling attention to cultural connections to the land; rematriation: restoring the relationship between Indigenous people and their ancestral land; and ecological and climate breakdown.

The exhibition includes photographic portraits, personal statements and short films, to be shown at multiple venues around the region. Each exhibit will open with public programs where project participants will share their stories, demonstrate and hold a Q&A panel discussion around issues raised by the exhibit.

There are upcoming exhibitions and programs in Santa Cruz in mid August and San Francisco in early October.

SANTA CRUZ, CA – open to the public August 17-27 at Santa Cruz Museum of Arts and History, with an opening reception August 19th. This smaller exhibit represents 7 cultural groups indigenous to territories near Santa Cruz.
● Exhibition open: August 17-27, 2023
● Opening Day August 19, 2-5pm
● Santa Cruz Museum of Arts and History, Atrium 1st Floor, 705 Front St, Downtown Santa Cruz, CA
● Free to the public

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – opens at the de Young Museum on October 7, 2023 and runs through January 7, 2024, with opening day programming on October 7th. This exhibit, co-curated with Christina Hellmich, Curator in Charge of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, represents 10 cultural groups indigenous to California’s South Coast Range and is supported and partly funded by California Humanities.
● Exhibition open October 7, 2023 to January 7, 2024
● Opening Day October 7, 11-2pm
● de Young museum, San Francisco, Kimball Education Gallery, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden
Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
● Free to the public
● Supported and partly funded by California Humanities

About the Project
As an artist, Bassendine has always been intrigued by human relationships — especially how they impact the discovery of identity and belonging within one’s culture and the wider world. By bringing so many Indigenous voices together, she creates a unique experience for audiences to engage with these ideas themselves.

Bassendine’s work offers an intimate insight into Indigenous leaders’ connections to their land and ecology, their intergenerational relationships, and their vital role in cultural revitalization. By sharing the voices and images of her subjects, Bassendine seeks to foster a more compassionate society by enlightening viewers about this challenging subject.
Bassendine’s dedication to cultural sensitivity and trust-building has allowed her to bring together an unprecedented number of Indigenous community members for this project. Participating Indigenous Cultural Groups are Association of Ramaytush Ohlone, Confederated Villages of Lisjan, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, Tamien Nation, Indian Canyon Mutsun Band of Costanoan-Ohlone People, Amah
Mutsun Tribal Band, the Rumsen Ohlone Tribal Community, Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, and the Salinan Tribe of San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties and Salinan T’rowt’raahl tribal community.

“Through this exhibition, we aim to convey the rich tapestry of indigenous heritage, their deep connections with the land, and their significant cultural contributions,” Bassendine commented.

This project has been possible with the assistance of her small team, Rishi Burr for technical knowledge in videography, film editing, and practical photoshoot assistance; and David Bassendine in helping frame the project vision and questions, research, website creation, copy writing and practical photoshoot assistance.

Looking forward, Bassendine will tour this exhibition to reach audiences not only across California but also the U.S. and internationally. She is also working to establish a permanent exhibit for each participating cultural group, as well as a documentary and a book based on this project. Please see for project information and updates.

Gregg Castro, Culture Director of The Association of Ramaytush Ohlone:
“Bassendine’s work has become an essential project for the further education of the public in California of our current existence and that we are not ‘living in the past.’”

Christina Hellmich – Curator in Charge of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, at de Young Museum, San Francisco:
“Bassendine’s work is important to the state of California as a cultural heritage archive and as a source of community action and education. Council support will help bring her full artistic vision for the project to fruition. We, at the de Young museum, are excited to share her photographic portraits, accompanying participant statements in the form of
didactics, and short films with our visitors.”

About the Artist:

Kirti Bassendine is a renowned photographer and documentarian known for her artistic and representational approach to her work. By giving voice to her subjects through compelling images and narratives, her projects foster community engagement, understanding and compassion.