Natani Notah is an interdisciplinary artist, poet, and graphic designer. She is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation (Diné) and is also of Lakota and Cherokee descent. Inspired by acts of decolonization, Indigenous feminism, and Indigenous futurism, her work explores contemporary Native American identity through the lens of Diné womanhood. In 2014 she graduated from Cornell University with a BFA in Fine Art and a minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the recipient of numerous awards including The San Francisco Foundation’s Murphy Cadogan Scholarship and the 2018 International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. Her work has been published in As/Us: A Space for Women of the World, Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought, and is forthcoming in the second edition of Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism and the October 2018 issue of Sculpture Magazine. Natani recently graduated from Stanford University with an MFA in Art Practice and she is the recipient of the 2018-2019 Headlands Center for the Arts Graduate Fellowship.
My current art practice explores contemporary Native American identity through the lens of Diné (Navajo) womanhood. Inspired by acts of decolonization, environmental justice, Indigenous feminism, and Indigenous futurism, my work dares to imagine a world where Native sensibilities are magnified. By way of fragmented abstraction, bodily scale, and the marrying of natural and synthetic materials, my work provokes conversations about what it means to be a colonized individual in present-day United States of America. Additionally, drawing upon minimal forms derived from Diné symbolism, my sculptures, installations, and performances become living bodies of sharp resistance to assimilation.
In the studio I consistently incorporate discarded and found objects as a way to respond to the historical traumas of displacement and exploitation of Native American communities since 1492. The process of assembling disparate pieces together functions as a generative metaphor for collective healing and reconciliation. Supported by research into historical trauma, the disproportionate rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls, plus the high rates of suicide across Indian country, my work conceptually challenges dominant, colonial ideologies by inserting a female, Native American perspective back into the mainstream. In an effort to imagine decolonial futures, I often pair unexpected elements together and include Native beadwork, leatherwork, and fiber to complicate our understanding of inherited tradition and value. Through my interdisciplinary art practice, I aim to braid together our communal stories of loss and survival to promote understanding and respect across cultural divides.