Venaya Yazzie is a Diné (Navajo) and Hopi woman from the San Juan Valley in northwestern New Mexico, USA. Venaya’s heritage is rooted in the Huerfano, NM and Chaco Canyon, NM region of the eastern Navajo Nation, yet she also carries her father’s Hopi heritage from northern Arizona. As an artist, poet and photographer Venaya, has come to understand, via artistic inspiration, her visceral connection with the land as a living entity.
Through her visual interpretations in her paintings, Yazzie strives to depict her Indigenous experience in the urban 21st century settings and in its juxtaposition to the natural world around her. Through the content of her work, she is steadfast in creating what she calls, “Neo-Navajo” art. For her it is a conscious attempt to purposely abandon the mundane stereotypical iconography of what is defined as “Native American Art” within the southwest. For her, the act of creating art should ask the artist to push conventional boundaries, engage new dialog and to encompass art with content. Venaya believes that from such awareness comes fulfillment of spiritual freedom in expression, thus bringing about optimism, happiness and balance.
Venaya describes her poetry works as an act of “survivance,” as she strives to reclaim the true historical past of Indigenous people, reaffirm Indigenous identity and ancestry and to re-tell the modern stories and experiences of the 21st century Indigenous individual to the global community.
Yazzie recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with an M.A. in Education and Indian Education, she is also an alumnus of Fort Lewis College, in Durango, Colorado and the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a member of the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council and is an Artist-In-Residence of the Bisti Writing Project in the Four Corners area of the southwest.
Link to some of Venaya’s work