Natani Notah: Seed Beads and Skirts: A Native American, Feminist Art Practice

Two hands holding a red toolbox over a red skirt.

Skirted (2017), performance with red skirt, tool box, scissors, and thread, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University.

Natani Notah (B.F.A. '14) 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 and Indigenous feminism and futurism, her work explores contemporary Native American identity through the lens of Diné womanhood. By way of fragmented abstraction, bodily scale, and the marrying of natural and synthetic materials, her work provokes conversations about what it means to be a colonized individual in the present-day U.S. Additionally, drawing upon minimal forms derived from Diné symbolism, her sculptures, installations, and performances become living bodies of sharp resistance to assimilation.

Notah has exhibited across the U.S. and 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; Sculpture Magazine; and is forthcoming in the second edition of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism. Notah holds a B.F.A. and minor in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies from Cornell University, and an M.F.A. in art practice from Stanford University. She is the recipient of the 2018–19 Headlands Center for the Arts Graduate Fellowship and currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area.

Abstract:

Seed Beads and Skirts: A Native American, Feminist Art Practice sets out to explore the process and conceptual underpinnings of artwork made by Natani Notah. For the artist, 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 in the U.S. and Canada, plus the high rates of suicide across Indian country, her work conceptually challenges dominant, colonial ideologies by inserting a female, Native American perspective back into the mainstream.