the art of

Marlena Myles

digital artist + animator + fabric/fashion designer + book illustrator

Marlena Myles is a self-taught Native American (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee) artist located in St Paul, Minnesota. Her art brings modernity to Indigenous history, languages and oral traditions while using the land as a teacher. Growing up on her traditional Dakota homelands here in the Twin Cities, she enjoys using her artwork to teach Minnesotans of all backgrounds the Indigenous history of this place we call home.

Her professional work includes public art, children’s books, augmented reality, murals, fabrics, animations and has shown her work in fine art galleries such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Museum of Russian Art, Red Cloud Heritage Center and the Minnesota Museum of American Art to name a few. Her first permanent site-specific augmented reality public art installation known as the Dakota Spirit Walk is available on the Revelo AR app.

In 2021, she opened her own Dakota publishing company called Wíyouŋkihipi (We Are Capable) Productions to create a platform that educates and honors the culture, language and history of Dakota people.

Dakhóta Thamákhočhe (Dakota Land Maps)

These maps illustrate the story of the past, present and future of Dakota people and our language in our traditional homelands. Visit the project page to download free posters, purchase larger maps, hear audio and learn more about the lands Dakota people have called home for generations upon generations.

 

Bde Óta Othúŋwe & Imnížaska Othúŋwe
Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota (Twin Cities)

 

Minnesota River Valley Dakota landmap

Mnísota Wakpá Makhósmaka
Minnesota River Valley – including Bloomington, Edina, Wayzata, Chanhassan, Chaska, Shakopee, Prior Lake, Belle Plaine, Mankato, Owatonna, Waseca, New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, Redwood Falls, Lower Sioux Community, Granite Falls, Upper Sioux Community, Montevideo, Pipestone.

Thíŋta Wíta – Ȟemníčhaŋ Othúŋwe Wašté – Winúŋna
Prairie Island, Red Wing & Winona, Minnesota

Dakota Spirit Walk

Augmented Reality public art
Presented by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota) in collaboration with Todd Boss (Revelo AR artistic director) & supported by Pixel Farm Studios.

The Dakota Spirit Walk is a permanent augmented reality public art installation
 that honors, educates and connects visitors to Dakota history, culture and significance of land through the art and storytelling of Marlena Myles, Spirit Lake Dakota.

Now open at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
Downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Learn more

“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.”

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.

I have created works for children’s books, coloring books, animations and fine art in galleries such as  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.

Blog

My blog features interviews and news articles about my work as well as my writings, reviews and critique about (Native) art.

If This Bluff Could Talk

If This Bluff Could Talk

To the Dakota people, Ȟemníčhaŋ (Hemnican) / Barn Bluff is one of the most sacred places in the world. The City of Red Wing, Minnesota had a call for a creative artist to listen to community voices to add to the different associations people in the area have to Ȟemníčhaŋ/Hemnican (Barn Bluff); from the history of the geological formation to Indigenous peoples such as the Dakota and Ho-Chunk and to the immigrants of recent times. I was the artist selected for the project.

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Curated Case @ Minneapolis Institute of Art

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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