Since 2016, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) has been asking the seemingly simple question on social media during Women’s History Month: Can you name 5 women artists? Most people they asked could not.

The #5WomenArtists campaign calls attention to the fact that women have not been treated equally in the art world, and that they remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries, and auction houses. UC Press is proud to share the below #5WomenArtists feature.

Born in 1977 in Inglewood, CA, Cara Romero was raised on the Chemehuevi Valley Indian reservation along the California shoreline of Havasu Lake in the heart of the Mojave Desert, later followed by Houston, TX, and Santa Fe, NM. Romero strives to reveal the beauty, power, and complexity of Native women. Regarding her photograph Naomi (below) from her First American Girl series, she explains, “The image is about creating a self-representation of California Indians that we never experienced growing up. Inventing a reality we wish for. . . . It’s a convergence of pop and traditional life ways.” Like an action figure that bears the garments and accoutrements suited to her role, Romero’s “doll” wears First Californian (Chumash) apparel with related accessories displayed around her.

Cara Romero, Naomi, 2018. Photograph, 52 x 44 in. Collection of the artist © Cara Romero

“I am deeply committed to making work that addresses Native American social issues and changes the way people perceive Native Americans, especially Native women, in contemporary society. If we want respect, love, and beauty among us and others, we must actively promote it through our art.”—Cara Romero

Cara Romero is one of the artists featured in the forthcoming exhibition and accompanying catalogue, When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in Californiawhich showcases contemporary art by First Californians and other American Indian artists who combine art and activism, embracing issues of identity, politics, and injustice to produce innovative—and frequently enlightening—work.

Learn more about When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California, curated and edited by Frank LaPena, Mark Dean Johnson, and Kristina Perea Gilmore. The show can be viewed at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento from October 20, 2019–January 26, 2020, and will travel to the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe (August 13, 2020–January 3, 2021), and the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles (September 19, 2021–February 27, 2022).