Skip to Content (Press Enter)
Titan Spotlight

Anthropology Grad’s Museum Exhibition Explores ‘Power in Identity’

Share This:

Growing up, Yajaira Vilchis Alvarez had little exposure to her Mexican heritage. Years later, she discovered her passion for museums and art while visiting family in Mexico City. Alvarez’s love of cultural exploration and art brought her to anthropology, first in community college, and later at Cal State Fullerton where she would eventually pursue a graduate degree.

“I recognized that an anthropology degree would equip me with the tools to research and study without ethnocentrism, allowing me to tell BIPOC stories accurately by giving voice to their experiences and perspectives, and challenging the dominant narratives that often overlook or misrepresent them,” Alvarez said.

Her graduate research culminated this spring with an exhibition in CSUF’s Anthropology Teaching Museum titled, “Power in Identity.” Through her work, Alvarez set out to explore questions about inclusivity in museum spaces.

“As I was looking for graduate programs, I knew I wanted to continue with anthropology because it gave me a different perspective on approaching the art industry. The Division of Anthropology at CSUF offered two courses in museum studies, which allowed me to learn more about museums’ work from an anthropological perspective and gain experience in curating my own exhibition,” Alvarez said.

The exhibition opened in early spring and was visited by several classes interested in incorporating topics of identity, inclusivity, community and contemporary art into their respective curricula. Alvarez said the exhibition “represents a personal passion and a deliberate effort to amplify the presence of people of color in the art industry” and highlights “the richness and diversity of artistic expression rooted in cultural backgrounds, communities, and personal journeys.”

Featuring the works of three Orange County and Los Angeles County area women of color artists, Alexa Vasquez, Kayley Jane Garcia Dykman and Mel Depaz, the exhibition is a “compelling exploration of their transformative journeys in discovering and embracing their identities,” said Alvarez.

Reflecting on her journey to graduation and experience working with a group exhibition, Alvarez hopes to find a position within the art industry and continue her involvement with anthropology by teaching at a community college. To learn about this exhibition or ways to support students like Alvarez, contact Sarah Grant at

Sarah Grant