Manuel Lopez wants you to see the Tongva land on which this L.A. handball court sits

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Artwork by Manuel Lopez.
(Christian Arias / For The Times)

This story is part of L.A. — We. See. You!, the second issue of Image, which explores various ways of seeing the city for what it is. See the full package here.

Drawing involves seeing. Seeing is acknowledging. For the past couple of years I’ve been drawing the neighborhoods east of the L.A. River — specifically, East L.A., City Terrace, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno. I begin those drawings by acknowledging that these lands are Tongva and have been since time immemorial. I decided to place a landscape drawing on the wall of a handball court. I went in and got to know the players who play there. We spoke, and I was privileged enough to hear their stories. I explained that I wanted to make a drawing on those walls, their walls. The drawing was made with vine charcoal, which erases rather quickly. I wanted the drawing on the handball court wall to change as the game progressed. The drawing did indeed change; certain parts were erased as the ball and sometimes even the players hit that wall. See the full process video by Rafael Cardenas here.

Artwork by Manuel Lopez.
(Christian Arias / For The Times)

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Artwork by Manuel Lopez.
(Christian Arias / For The Times)
Artwork by Manuel Lopez.
(Christian Arias / For The Times)

More from issue 2 of Image