Visibility Through Art is a community art initiative produced annually as part of CHIRP’s Arts and Culture Program. Visibility Through Art is an intentional and informed collaboration between local artists and members of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe. Each project year explores a theme or subject of importance to the Tribe, culminating in an annual exhibit. This year, artists and Tribal Members were asked to center around the theme of Erasure. We are invited to consider: the impact of settler colonialism through the generations, of the gold rush, the boarding schools, of the laws and systems that erased and continue to eradicate Nisenan heritage and identity. Art opens the way for meaningful conversations around topics that are not always easy to have and sometimes can reveal solutions that may otherwise remain unseen.

VTA Artist Andrés Amador led Tribal Members in a series of nature-based artworks as a way to share their own expression
VTA Artist Andrés Amador led Tribal Members in a series of nature-based artworks as a way to share their own expression

‘Uba Seo: Nisenan Arts & Culture is a new gallery space in downtown Nevada City. The gallery project falls under CHIRP’s Art and Culture Program and is yet another way to bring visibility to the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe while fulfilling CHIRP’s mission: to preserve, protect, and perpetuate Nisenan Culture. ‘Uba Seo is another step toward the restoration of the Tribe’s Federal Recognition. Since opening its doors in the Spring of 2021, ‘Uba Seo has created rich opportunities for visibility, advocacy, healing, and community education. The ‘Uba Seo Gallery creates an unprecedented social space curated through Nisenan perspectives and voices.


This art event was created to engage our community in conversation about this land and the Nisenan People. It also serves to raise the Tribe’s visibility. Shelly Covert, a Nisenan Tribal member who sits on the Nevada City Rancheria Tribal Council, is the Spokesperson for her Tribe, and the Executive Director of CHIRP stated, “The goal is to create conscientious art pieces that inspire dialogue about Nisenan history and culture. We were looking for a way to tell our collective story and this seems to be working. Art is an incredible platform to engage in difficult dialogue. And collaborating with local artists has not only been a pleasure, but it is helping us achieve our goals. Our deepest hope is to bring about awareness of local historic and current issues through the medium of art.” The one-of-a-kind pieces created annually during this project have become the main body of CHIRP’s expanding art collection.

VTA workshop

Participating Tribal Member Artists: Shelly Covert, Ginger Covert, Lorena Davis, Sarah Thomas, Cindy Buero, Debra McBrien, Saxon Thomas, Natalie Thomas, Saxon Jr. Thomas, Colin Thomas, Karen McCluskey, Jennifer Plunkett, Britteny DePew, Eddy Quinn

Participating Artists: Andrés Amador, Fabienne Annick, Amanda Ashely, Nikila Badua, Maile Claire, Mira Clark, Sarah Coleman, Jennifer Crosby, Rama Cryer, Indigo Donaldson, Juli Elin, Brianna French, Jessa Hurst, Lori Lachman, Mekdela Maskal, Hannah McDonell, Bishop Randall, R. Rehrer, Rachel Rein, Saree Robinson, Alyssa Walz, Leilani Webb, Ursula X. Young, and Chloe Young


The Nisenan are the Indigenous People who were here thousands of years before the gold rush. Despite the destruction of their homelands, broken Treaties, and forced assimilation, they remain here in their homelands today and strive to have their identity reflected in the fabric of the community. Federal Recognition: Woodrow Wilson signed an Executive Order in 1913 that gave Federal Recognition to the Nisenan and the Nevada City Rancheria preserved 76 acres of land in trust as an Indian Reservation. In 1964 the Nevada City Rancheria was one of forty-four California Rancherias wrongfully “terminated” by Congress and today is one of three California Rancherias awaiting restoration. True and correct knowledge of the Nisenan and their ancient existence on this land, up until very recently, had been fully erased from history and the Tribe was nearly forgotten. The need for visibility as the Tribe fights to have their Federal Recognition and sovereignty restored has begun to turn the tide of historic amnesia. Creation of our non-profit organization: Up until very recently, most of that education and change has had to be shouldered by the Tribe itself. Thus, the California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project, aka CHIRP, was created to assist the Tribe in areas of Federal Recognition, Education, Art, Cultural Resource Protection, Land Back, Community Education and Communications, Media, and Fundraising, and more. CHIRP’s mission serves the needs of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe, guides and informs right relations with Indigenous communities, and stabilizes Nisenan Culture and community, all while bringing education and connection to the public through its charitable purposes. CHIRP’s 501c3 status brings opportunities that as a terminated Tribe, the Nevada City Rancheria does not have.

Visibility Through Art 2022 Exhibition

~ Perspectives on Erasure ~

Curated by Shelly Covert & Mira Clark

On View: October 8th, 2022 – March 2023

Opening Art Reception: Saturday, October 8th, 2022, 6 – 9 PM ‘UBA SEO Gallery, 225 Broad Street, Nevada City CA, 95959

Special Open Hours: Monday, October 10th, Indigenous People’s Day, 1 – 5 pm

Regular Gallery Hours: Thursday 1 – 6 pm, Friday – Sunday, 12 – 5 pm