The art of

Marlena Myles

Taƞyáƞ yahípi (welcome everyone)

Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee) is a Native American artist located in St Paul, Minnesota. She uses her art to celebrate her Indigenous culture & language as well as helping the public understand the significance of Native oral traditions and history and its representation through Native art.

She has gain recognition as being one of few Dakota women creating digital art and hopes her hard work will someday influence other young Native women to enter the art technology field and share their vision with the world.  She works often with Native youth in the community, including teaching digital art at the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute at the University of South Dakota and teaching graphic design to students at Migizi Communications, as well as teaching Water is Life workshops to young Minneapolis students.

Her hope is that the modern tools she uses behind her art will be a channel to the youth, to give them the inspiration to create a future that connects with our past, to create a future that is alive with our cultural values and languages.

Upcoming Children Books

Thanku: Poems About Gratitude
An illustrated picture book anthology of poems for children centered around many ways to be grateful, and many things to give thanks for. Includes more than 30 contributors.
Coming 2019, published by Millbrook Press (Lerner Publishing Group).

Powwow Day
Written by Traci Sorell.
A traditional powwow as seen through the eyes of a girl whose illness keeps her from participating.
Coming Spring 2020, published by Charlesbridge.

Her art continues the importance of the Dakota philosophy Mitakuye Owasin (We Are All Related) and with this understanding, we can heal the planet and our communities through positive actions and reflections.

Behind my art

I create my digital art using Adobe Illustrator.  Each piece consists of hundreds of layers, gradients and shapes placed upon each other.  When people think of Native American art, they may recall the geometric abstract styles that were historically used by women, or the figurative war scenes created by men, but my art combines both in a fresh way to revamp what people might think of Native art.

In 2017/2018, my art was displayed at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Red Cloud Heritage Center, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the South Dakota Art Museum, and the Museum of Nebraska Art to name a few.

I am currently developing Dakota animations, as demonstrated above.

“The common misconception with Native art is that it’s traditional — it’s stuck in the past. But the truth is that Native people have always been innovative. So, to use Illustrator is just a continuation of what my ancestors already did.”

Fashion Designs

My Dakota fashion designs are a fusion between my Native culture and various art/fashion/design movements. You can find them all at my Spoonflower account; the prices start at $17.50 for a yard (42″ width) for cotton and $18 for a yard (54″ width) of satin.

Blog

My blog features interviews and news articles about my work as well as reviews and critique about Native art written by me.

Curated Case @ Minneapolis Institute of Art

The use of the American flag by the Dakhóta and Lakȟóta people of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (“Seven Council Fires”, as we are collectively known) shows a conscious thoughtfulness of our ongoing relationship with the United States: at times a political symbol, at other times used to protect our sovereignty and traditions.

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