Jessica Li is the recipient of the 2023 UCLA Library Prize for Undergraduate Research in the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. The Library Prize for Undergraduate Research recognizes and honors excellence in undergraduate research at UCLA. Jessica’s study, “How Paul Landacre’s Wood Engravings of the Coachella Valley Region Reflect the Erasure of Indigenous Populations in an Emerging Capitalist Framework,” was the result of research for Professor Johanna Drucker’s Ahmanson Undergraduate Scholarship Seminar during the fall quarter, 2022.
-Bronwen Wilson, Edward W. Carter Chair in European Art and the Director of the Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies and William Andrews Memorial Clark Library at UCLA
Summing up Fall 2022 Ahmanson Undergraduate Scholarship Seminar
Artist Paul Landacre became famous for his wood engravings of the California landscape in the 1930s. My research paper particularly focuses on his Indio Mountains and Coachella Valley wood blocks and how they simply serve as a snapshot of Landacre’s reality. What they fail to capture, however, are the histories of the land’s indigenous inhabitants who were systematically erased by industrialization and profit-driven economies, such as with the Southern Pacific Company. My paper dives deeper into the historical context behind the two works, and ultimately, how Landacre’s work reflects the subjugation of both him as well as indigenous populations to an increasingly capitalist framework.
The paper was the end product of my research during the Ahmanson Seminar in Fall 2022 under Professor Johanna Drucker. During the seminar, we examined primary and secondary materials from the Clark Library, the American Indian Studies Center Library, and the Young Research Library (YRL) relating to Paul Landacre, the California landscape, and indigenous history in the area. Each week, we looked through archives, books, images, and other historical records relating Landacre’s work and life to the context of what led to the Los Angeles culture and landscape in the 1930s. My individual research centered on diving into the materials and honing in on a specific research question relating to an image in Landacre’s California Hills and other wood engravings. It was complemented with class discussions about insights and questions each week, which ultimately culminated in presentations about our research topics and materials.
Paul Landacre. Coachella Valley. 1936. Wood carving on paper. Catherine Burns Fine Art, www.paullandacreprints.com/product/landacre-Paul-coachella-valley-1936.