For all of Natalia Molina’s life,the sight of the San Gabriel Mountains has meant one thing above all: She’s home.
They loomed over the Echo Park house she grew up in. She sees them outside her office window at USC, where Molina is a distinguished professor of American studies and ethnicity. They rise above the landscapes and buildings of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, where she’s the interim director of research. They welcome her home from travels to give lectures around the world.
“They’re a sign that I’m connected to Los Angeles,” Molina, 51, told me recently at the Huntington. “That [my family has] been for generations, and that I respect those who came before me” — the immigrants, the Indigenous peoples of these lands. “They’re symbolic of being grounded and of knowing my purpose.”