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.

Current Exhibitions

Aŋpétu Wí (in the Arts of the Americas gallery)

Minneapolis Institute of Art . Minneapolis, MN
June 2017 – Spring 2018.

The Horse Nation of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ

The Plains Art Museum. Fargo, ND

February – May 2018.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Censored: Artist Respond

Artspace Jackson Flats. Minneapolis, MN
March 16 – March 30, 2018.

Artists in the Kitchen exhibition

Textile Center – A National Center for Fiber Art. Minneapolis, MN
March 21 – May 19, 2018.

The Horse Nation of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ

Minneapolis Institute of Art, All My Relations Gallery, Two Rivers Gallery. Minneapolis, MN June 2018 – March 2019.

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, 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 also specialize in watercolor and graphite portraits when I’m not working on digital artwork.

“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.”


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

News Article: Native art exhibit celebrates changing perspectives

There are several words people associate with regional Native artist Marlena Myles’ digital illustrations. Freeborn County Arts Initiative President Elisha Andrew Marin calls them “incredibly painstaking.” Curator and artist Susanne Crane calls them “techy,” “current and of the essence.”

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Non-stereotypical Native Americans | Two Rivers’ Survivance Exhibition

While at a casino, I once over heard a little girl asking her Caucasian father, “do Native Americans have kids?” The father laughed at the question, but to this little girl, the stereotypes of Native Americans in society are probably all she has ever witnessed, so it really seemed plausible Native Americans exist in a separate reality; one where we are stagnant entities, sad and lost to history. However, this exhibition challenges that tired stereotypical perspective of Native Americans by profiling Indigenous artists, performers and activists with the photography of John Ratzloff, who is a non-Native American.

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