GRANTEE: Jessica (Tyner) Mehta
NATIVE HERITAGE: Cherokee Nation
LOCATION: Hillsboro, OR
AWARD: 2021 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE: Fiction/Poetry Writing
Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, born and raised in Oregon and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is a multi-award-winning interdisciplinary author, artist, and storyteller. She is currently preparing for her Fulbright U.S. Scholar award in Bangalore, India as well as her residency at Ucross as the 2021 Native American artist-in-residence. Mehta is the recipient of a 2021GLEAN: Portland award and Regional Arts and Culture Council Make/Learn/Build award. She has two books releasing in 2021, including When We Talk of Stolen Sisters (Not a Pipe Publishing) and Antipodes (New Rivers Press). Mehta just completed the final year of her PhD program in Literature at the University of Exeter (England) and currently serves as a post-graduate researcher at the largest Victorian Centre in England. She is the first Native American to hold this position.
Mehta has received several writer-in-residencies around the world which were pivotal in supporting the creation of 15 published books. These posts include the Hosking Houses Trust with an appointment at The Shakespeare Birthplace (Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK), Paris Lit Up (Paris, France), the Women’s International Study Center (WISC) Acequia Madre House post (Santa Fe, NM), the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE), and a Writer in the Schools (WITS) residency at Literary Arts (Portland, OR). Her doctoral research addresses the intersection of eating disorders and poetry.
For her LIFT project, Mehta will write a 50+ page book of poems, focusing on an array of themes, from Tsaligi stories from her childhood and forced removal, to a post-Trump world for Native people. She will also create a temporary installation, Chamber Coda, where she will crush the thousands of opioids found in her mother’s bedroom after her (fatal) overdose, filling a custom-blown hourglass to time down in three to five minutes, the amount of time it takes a person to die of an opioid overdose.
In nearly everything I do, my identity and experiences as a Native woman in what is called “America” today is at the heart of my projects.
—Jessica (Tyner) Mehta (Cherokee Nation)