When was the last time you saw a group exhibition of work by Native women artists? I’ve been following Nevada art closely for 17 years, and, yeah, me neither. But that’s not because we don’t have plenty of talented, hardworking Native women in the community.
Fawn Douglas, for one, has been working tirelessly to make sure Native women artists get to tell their own stories, in their own voices, with their own mics in their own hands. She curated Ah’-Wah-Nee, the exhibition and symposium at UNLV’s Donna Beam Gallery that’s been showcasing the work of 10 Indigenous women artists since November.
The show closes today at 2 pm. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it, the good news is that these artists have other shows happening now or coming up soon, Instagram feeds you should be following, and portfolios online. Also keep an eye out for the Ah’-Wah-Nee catalogue, slated to be published in 2022.
Photos courtesy of Mikayla Whitmore and UNLV’s Donna Beam Gallery.
Loretta Burden, Fallon
Loretta is basketmaker, educator, and member of the Fallon Paiute tribe who uses traditional styles and modern materials.
You can see more of Loretta’s work in Carson City in Inheritance: Basketry and Art of the Great Basin, the new exhibition at the Stewart Indian School and Cultural Center.
Fawn Douglas, Las Vegas
In addition to being Ah’-Wah-Nee‘s curator, Fawn is also an MFA student in UNLV’s art department, co-founder of the Nuwu Art + Activism Studios, and member of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe.
You can learn more about Fawn and her work in her Q+A with Double Scoop’s Josie Glassberg. If you’re in Las Vegas, keep an eye out for her MFA exhibition in spring 2022.
Follow Fawn on Instagram: @nuwuart
Noelle Garcia, Chicago
Noelle is a graduate of UNLV’s MFA program and a member of the Klamath and Paiute tribes whose work focuses on themes of “identity, family history and recovered narratives.”
You can see more of Noelle’s work on her website.
Follow Noelle on Instagram: @noellesbroke
Jean LaMarr, Susanville, CA
Jean LaMarr is an activist and printmaker with Paiute/Pit River ancestry, who many Nevada artists—including Mary Lee Fulkerson and Jack Malotte—cite as a teacher, mentor, and influence. She founded the Native American Graphic Workshop in 1986 and still runs it.
Jean’s work will be the subject of a major exhibition, The Art of Jean LaMarr, which opens at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno on Jan. 29.
Melissa Melero-Moose, Sparks
Melissa is a member of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and a co-founder of Great Basin Native Artists. She works primarily in acrylics and collages natural elements such as pine nuts and willow branches directly onto her canvases. Melissa is also the curator at the Stewart Indian School’s Wa-Pai-Shone Gallery.
You can learn more about Melissa on her website, the Great Basin Native Artists website, and the Double Scoop Podcast. You can see more of her work in person in the Stewart Indian School gallery’s new exhibition Inheritance: Basketry and Art of the Great Basin.
Natani Notah, Tulsa, OK
Some Native artists want to tell stories about the legacy of genocide and brutality in the U.S. Some don’t. Natani, a member of the Navajo Nation, does tell these stories, sometimes heaping beautiful contemporary aesthetics and snapshots of violence into the same soft sculpture. For the next two years, she’s stationed in Oklahoma, participating in the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.
Two good places to get a deeper sense of Natani’s work and themes are her website and this August review from the San Francisco arts and culture journal 48hills.
Follow Natani on Instagram: @nataninotah
Cara Romero, Santa Fe
We all know that the centuries-long power dynamic between Native women and photography is effed-up beyond belief. If you want to see that dynamic turned on its head, spend some time on Cara’s “Editions” page. Cara is a member of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe.
You can see more of Cara’s work—and links to coverage by the likes of Craft in America and National Geographic—on her website and store.
Follow Cara on IG: @cararomerophotography
Rose B. Simpson, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico
Rose says in her artist statement, “My life-work is a seeking out of tools to use to heal the damages I have experienced as a human being of our postmodern and postcolonial era—objectification, stereotyping, and the disempowering detachment of our creative selves through the ease of modern technology.” She makes ceramic figurative sculptures that are often life-size or larger, and she also works in metals, performance, music, installation, writing, and custom cars.
Rose’s solo exhibition, Rose B. Simpson:The Four, is on view at the Nevada Museum of Art through April 17, 2022. You can learn more about her work on her website.
Follow Rose on Instagram: @rosebsimpson
Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico
Roxanne specializes in clay and bronze figures, particularly portraits of women. One of her goals as an artist is to “represent the complete spectrum of the human spirit portraying the balance of power between male and female.”
You can see more of Roxanne’s work on her website.
Follow Roxanne on Instagram @roxanneswentzell
Shelby Westika, Las Vegas
Shelby Westika’s digital paintings layer music, emotion, online worlds of video games, and her memories of performing in a Zuni Pueblo band.
You can learn more about Shelby’s work on her website.