Melissa Melero was born in San Francisco, CA in 1974 and spent most of her childhood living near Reno, Nevada. She is a Northern Paiute enrolled with the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe located in Fallon, Nevada. Melissa holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Fine Arts from Portland State University, Portland, OR. After spending many years in the southwest and northwest part of the country, Melissa returned to Reno, NV, working part time in arts administration and as a professional artist. She exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, NM and in select galleries throughout the U.S. Her current influences are imagery found in the Nevada landscape, petroglyphs, beadwork, and basketry from the Native tribes of Nevada and California. “I have the constant desire to create these images in my head and in the process these works mesh into organic, caught in time objects of history and personal development.”
“I view myself as a contemporary traditionalist, creating works in the “now” branching from traditional art forms, always acknowledging my Tlingit heritage. The Future will protect my work if it “feeds” others, inspires others." - Clarissa Rizal
Clarissa Rizal, is a Tlingit artist and Cultural facilitator. Her work has been featured in prestigious galleries including the Stonington Gallery and the Quintana Gallery. Over the course of her career she has produced work of the highest quality in the form of carvings, silk screen prints, paintings, collages, woven baskets and robes, button robes, beadwork, and regalia design. She teaches weaving workshops, and is active in non-profit activities to promote the arts. She is presently pursuing a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Art.
Bunky Echo-Hawk is a multi-talented artist whose work spans both media and lifestyle. A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, he is a ﬁne artist, graphic designer, photographer, writer and a non-proﬁt professional. Bunky is a traditional singer and dancer of the Pawnee Nation and an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation.
Kay WalkingStick (born 1935) is a Native American painter and educator. She is enrolled in the Cherokee Nation and is also of Scotch-Irish and Ho-Chunk descent. She currently resides in New York and was a Professor of Art at Cornell University from 1988-2005.
My paintings take a broad view of what constitutes Native American Art. My wish has been to express our Native & non-native shared identity. We humans of all races are more alike than different, and it is this shared heritage, as well as my personal heritage I wish to express. I want all people to hold onto their cultures – they are precious – but I also want to encourage a mutual recognition of shared being. My goal has always been to paint about who I am as a 20th/21st century artist, and also as a Native American. My thoughts on our native history filled my work for many years. Today, I deal with feelings and thoughts common to all. I would hope that these paintings encourage the viewer to see our shared humanity in all of its gritty, frightening, awkward, sexy, funny and beautiful commonality.
Richard Ray Whitman (born 1949) is a Yuchi-Muscogee Creek multidisciplinary visual artist, poet, and actor. He is enrolled in the Muscogee Creek Nation and lives in Oklahoma.
RICHARD RAY WHITMAN ON INFLUENCES, POLITICS, AND FIRE
I spent some time at Wounded Knee in 1973. That influenced my art and my role as an artist, a culture worker, and a tribal citizen. I had left Santa Fe for Cal Arts and then went to Wounded Knee and never returned to art school. I began to see the artist's role in the context of the struggles at that time, and when I look to Central and South America at the indigenous cultures there, the artist, the poet, the writer, were always in the forefront and part of the larger vision for the people, and, of course, they are the ones who are usually assassinated or who become the political prisoners. I don't see enough artists in North America who are doing the real work that has been assigned them. Rather, the artist seems to do marketable work of safe images to hang on the wall, not work that is engaging and saying something about how it is with us today. So going to Wounded Knee had a very strong impact on my life. It changed my life completely. That experience still sheds light on what I do today.
Steven Yazzie, Navajo/Dine, has been creating and exhibiting works of art since the mid 1990′s. While his main body of his work is painting, he has also found equal success with sculpture, video, installation and mixed media work. Born in 1970, Yazzie is currently living and working in Phoenix, Arizona.
IAIA Vision Project Profile by Michelle McGeough
As far back as I can remember I have always loved art—drawing, painting, making music. What I like most about it is the freedom to create something—anything—from nothing. As a kid I enjoyed watching my uncle who is also an artist painting in his studio. And eventually, I realized that I also had a talent for drawing and that not only could I make a living from it, it also brought me great happiness.
Jaune Quick-To-See Smith (born 1940) is a Native American contemporary artist. Notably her work is held in the collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Smith calls herself a cultural art worker. Elaborating on her Native American worldview, Smith's work addresses today's tribal politics, human rights, and environmental issues with a keen sense of humor.
"Each tribe’s total culture is immersed in its specific area. Traditional foods, ceremonies and art come from the indigenous plants and animals as well as the land itself. The anthropomorphism of the land spawns the stories and myths. These things are the stuff of culture which keep identity intact."
In narrative traditions, to tell the story of tragedy one must always begin by telling the ending first. I once believed that the weight of such expectations functioned as a cultural given for the artist of Native American descent. Its rules stated that we cry for a vision and place ourselves in a single grand narrative of history and representation.
...but the laughter of Coyote saturated and filled our daily lives. It echoed through the lecture halls of histories and it was so powerful and it was so distracting that I forgot my place in linear time and now I work from an untraceable present.
Mateo Romero (born 1966) is a Native American painter. He was born in Berkeley, California, and is a member of the Cochiti Pueblo.
"These paintings reflect a pattern of evolution and change. The images are powerful, imposing, juxtaposed with swirling gestural paint marks and drips. Timeless, archaic elements of Pueblo culture are juxtaposed with contemporary abstract expressionist palette knife and brush work. Overall, the paintings develop a rhythmic, hypnotic, trancelike feeling which is referential to the metaphysical space of the Pueblo and the dance itself."