Artist inspires students at presentation


Art Professor Catherine Prose introduces guest artist Melanie Yazzie in Legacy Hall Sept. 13.

Associate Professor of Art at the University of Colorado Boulder, Melanie Yazzie, held a presentation Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the Legacy Multipurpose room in front of more than 70 people.  Yazzie said she hoped to inspire young artists to keep pursuing their dreams and to constantly make connections with others by showing the people that affected her throughout her life and the places that she had traveled to meet them.

Printmaking Professor at Midwestern State University, Catherine Prose said, “You can walk up and look at something and you can get your own interpretation of it, but then it’s a special experience having the artist tell you personal insight to it and about the inspiration for what drove the work.”

The artist told the crowd that most of her inspirations came from the Diné, commonly known as Navaho, community and her humble upbringings.  She showed pictures of her home, family, and the artwork that they inspired.  She gave detailed explanations of how living in that community developed her into a person that wants to connect with others and share traditions with people from all over the world.

Yazzie said, “I want to educate people through stories and my art work so they can learn something about our history and who we [Diné] are and to break down stereotypes of what people think that they know about my community.”

Yazzie felt that her communication with people with various traditions was what made her artwork relatable to different groups of people. She told the room that she often got her ideas for artwork through the environment that she was placed in.  She said that she wants to make as much artwork as possible because she has so much to say for her community and not enough time to do it.

Yazzie said, “It’s a daily practice and that it’s a lifelong path of just being inspired to make work every day and find the energy to create drawings, ideas, and listen to music to pull it all together and make an impact in the world.”

She offered stories on what has impacted her throughout life as well as told stories of when she was in college and the difficult experiences that she was faced with while studying. She explained that her passion for art was what drove her and formed her into the person she is today.

Art sophomore Caleb Brown said, “She had some encouraging words throughout the entire presentation.  At one moment she inspired me to keep on pursuing what I want to do with art and my pieces. What I interpreted from her was to pursue your dream and you’ll come a long way and it won’t feel like work anymore.”

Yazzie’s love for her work and people was demonstrated when she decided to bring the room together and sing a traditional Diné song.  The people joined hands in a circle that covered the entire room. The moment was emotional and ended the presentation beautifully.

Prose said, “I am overwhelmed by how giving she was. What everyone experienced was a gift. It wasn’t asked of her. She felt like the room needed a touch of each other and human connection.  I am thrilled that the students got the chance to experience that.”

The Juanita Harvey Art Gallery held an opening reception for Yazzie and her exhibit, “Waterways: Monotypes,” on Sept. 14 from 6-8 p.m. Her work will be on display until Sept. 28.