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'There Is No Future in Oil': Gallery Reception and Open Mic

Event Date:

August 17, 2023 | 6:30 PM PDT TO 9:00 PM PDT


Las Fotos Project
2210 E Cesar E Chavez Ave

Los Angeles, CA

Environmental justice activist Nalleli Cobo stands at the gates of the now-shuttered Los Angeles AllenCo Energy site, holding a photo of herself as a child

Primarily Black and brown neighborhoods have long borne the brunt of the oil infrastructure’s health...


“Photographs [...] help people take possession of a space in which they are insecure.”

Susan Sontag, author of On Photography (Picador, 1973), intended this as a criticism: Images by Western photographers align with imperialism when their subject is coded taboo, exotic, or alien. When one could capture, print, and (be)hold discomfort, it was no longer so uncomfortable.

Tara Pixley, a photographer based in southeastern Los Angeles, was one of the Pulitzer Center’s 2022 Diversify Photo Eyewitness grantees. Her project complicates Sontag’s claim. Gold in the Hills, but Not for Us portrays corroded oil wells dotting urban cul-de-sacs and adjoining children’s play structures in Inglewood; refineries grating blue skies with their trusses and scaffolding in Wilmington; and the people—Black and brown activists, parents, and creators—who go on living. Pixley’s photographs reimagine, indeed repossess, the relationship between Los Angeles and the people living in it from poisonous and extractive to inviting and sustainable.

"Far away, on the walk of fame, gold and black etch in stone // We’re still at the park struggling with our babies. // One day, though // A bare Crape Myrtle will bloom // Baby girl frosting pink. For you. Cruisin’ // On a Sunday. After. Noon.” wrote Vickie Vértiz in her poem inspired by and accompanying Pixley’s work.

Join the Pulitzer Center and Las Fotos Project at 2210 E Cesar E Chavez Ave in Los Angeles, CA to view Pixley’s photographs, take part in an open mic hosted by Vickie Vértiz, eat local fare, and celebrate community as we explore Angelenos’ relationships to urban oil extraction.

Registration is free, but required. REGISTER HERE.

If you would like to write or read a poem for the open mic, consider “how we relate to the environment” as your prompt. You are more than welcome to select poetry that is not your own so long as you accurately attribute the work. Each year, the Pulitzer Center sponsors the Fighting Words Poetry Contest; you can read the 2023 winners here.

Founded in 2010 by Los Angeles-based photographer Eric V. Ibarra, Las Fotos Project elevates the “voices of teenage girls and gender-expansive youth from communities of color through photography and mentoring, empowering them to channel their creativity for the benefit of themselves, their community, and future careers.”

Meet the participants:

  • Tara Pixley is a queer, Jamaican-American photojournalist and assistant professor of journalism at Temple University. She is also the executive director of Authority Collective, an organization by and for women/non-binary lens-based artists of color dedicated to establishing equity in visual media. Her photography reimagines race, gender, LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities through a liberation lens.
  • Vickie Vértiz is an award-winning poet, writer, educator, and advocate from southeast Los Angeles. Her first full collection of poetry, Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut, won a 2018 PEN America literary prize. Her latest book is titled Auto/Body. She teaches creative writing, writing for Chicanx studies, summer bridge writing for Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students, and composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara.



yellow halftone illustration of an elephant


Environment and Climate Change

Environment and Climate Change
teal halftone illustration of a raised fist


Racial Justice

Racial Justice
yellow halftone illustration of two construction workers moving a wheelbarrow of dirt


Extractive Industries

Extractive Industries