Casandra Lopez

Artist in Residence, 2019

A portrait of a person standing behind a low blue fence.

Artist Statement

Drawing upon personal experience and research, my memoir A Few Notes on Grief is an attempt to create a personal and collective narrative while examining  how grief and trauma has impacted my understanding of myself as a California Indian (Cahuilla, Luiseño, and Tongva/Chicana woman).

I’m interested in using historical and contemporary media representations of San Bernardino and California to explore violence, grief, and Indigenous erasure. This multi-genre project uses fragments to speak to the ruptures that are often caused by trauma and is an attempt to map out a path toward healing. The mosaic structure represents my attempt to apply my own Indigenous logic to my work

While at Headlands

Since witnessing my brother’s murder, I’ve been compelled to write about my experience and the cycle of violence that is prevalent in San Bernardino, my hometown. San Bernardino is known as one of the most dangerous cities in California, because bankruptcy has led to cuts in public safety and increased poverty, and it was the site of a mass shooting. It’s also the location of my family, community, and historical ties. It’s from this complex perspective I write and examine violence and survival. I also write from a place of conflict concerning justice. I explore what it means when one Indigenous man murders another, and if there can be justice.

My project multi-genre project, A Few Notes on Grief, will include, lyrical essays, prose poems along  responses to documents such as my brother’s autopsy report, his case report, various newspaper articles and government documents.

Selected Work

“Welcome to San Bernardino”