By Xela Vargas
After a three year, COVID-19 induced hiatus, the annual Bay Area Maya Cultural Festival makes its triumphant return to City College. With a lineup including an art exhibit and an all day festival, the Maya Cultural Festival is a reclamation and celebration of indigenous resilience, and rich cultural diversity – as well as an opportunity for community building.
In 2019 Steve Mayers, Rita Moran and Pedro Tuyub conceived of the festival as a way of bringing the Maya community to the forefront – curating a space to elevate indigenous voices, and bridge communities – a way of creating home away from home. Rita Moran describes a large misconception surrounding Indigenous people, especially the Maya – a culture and people she says are assumed to be “extinct”, and unilateral – but in reality there is a “large, and diverse community of Maya peoples in the Bay Area, especially at CCSF.”
Starting Aug. 25, Mayan artists will be taking over the Rosenberg Library Gallery with an exhibit titled Impressions of the Maya Field, where more than 10 artists pay homage to Maya expression and iconography. Through painted portraits, Maya women are depicted in vibrant colors resembling traditional Maya textiles. Also included is a photo exhibit by artist Haizel De la Cruz, a young indigenous photographer from the Yucatan, her works intimate portraits of harvest, and the indigenous relationship to the land. The power of this exhibit lies in its intimacy, as art from the indigenous perspective, rather than that of an outsider. An opening reception will be held in the gallery (Library 2nd floor) on Thursday, Sept. 14 from 5-7pm – including art, and performances by Mayan dancers and poets.
On Saturday, Sept. 16 from 9 a.m to 1:30 p.m. there will be a day of festivities held at City College’s Mission Campus. The invite is extended to the Maya Community, and Bay Area community at large, to engage in a day of celebration. The festival offers a variety of events and discussions to participate in such as storytelling, dance, social activism, food, art exhibition, and even a runway showcasing Maya fashions.
Indigenous resilience is not just about surviving, but the ability to thrive – preserving tradition and culture across generations, and across borders. With the revival of the annual festival the Bay Area Maya Cultural Festival revives community, art, song, dance and cultural exchange.