Holding the Truth: Reflections of a Navajo Artist

THU, FEB 24, 2000 (1:24:30)

Melanie Yazzie, contemporary Navajo multimedia artist, and visiting professor at the University of Arizona, gives a lecture and slideshow on “Holding the Truth: The Personal and Political in Art.” This event iss co-sponsored by the Harvard Native American Program. Melanie Yazzie is a Dine (Navajo) artist of the salt and bitter water clans. Yazzie works in a variety of media including prints and ceramics, among others. Through her installations, she examines both internal and external influences on Native people. For instance, neither the cloth in the Dine skirts nor Blue Bird flower are indigenous to the Dine people, but after being filtered through the hearts and hands of one of its women, they become synonymous with it. The monotype is another example of art that challenges Native portrayal in the dominant culture. By using the personal example of her own family, Yazzie presents real portrayal of Native culture, without idealizing, degrading or commercializing it.

+ BIO: Melanie Yazzie

Navajo artist Melanie Yazzie graduated from Arizona State University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in studio arts and entered graduate school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She pursued printmaking with a passion becoming a beginning, advanced and intermediate printmaking instructor at CU to pay for school. After receiving her master of fine arts degree in printmaking in 1993, Yazzie started to feel the pull on her heartstrings from the reservation. She wanted to live in a place between Colorado and the Navajo Nation. So she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and became an art instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Yazzie is now back at the University of Colorado, where she is an associate professor of art. She’s exhibited her work in New Zealand, France, Russia, Canada, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland and South Africa.

Harvard Graduate School of Education
Native American Culture Series