Mikayla Patton

Oglala Lakhota

GRANTEE: Mikayla Patton
LOCATION: Pine Ridge, South Dakota
AWARD:  2022 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists

Mikayla Patton is a visual artist born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. In 2019, Patton obtained a BFA in Printmaking from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and now she is represented by the Chiaroscuro Contemporary Gallery. Her work has been at the Texas Tech School of Art, All My Relations Gallery, and the Rainmaker Gallery in the UK. Patton is a recipient of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s Goodman Aspiring Artist Fellowship, First Peoples Fund’s Artist in Business Leadership Fellowship, and the Indian Arts and Research Center’s Ronald and Susan Dubin Fellowship. She completed a one-year residency through the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Foundation and was recently accepted into the Pfaff Foundation Artist-In-Residence, as well as The Ucross Native American Fellowship for Visual Artists.

Through printmaking, Patton learned the process of creating handmade paper. Paper being a prominent part of printmaking, Patton became interested in the way it’s made sustainably and accessible. Papermaking is now a prominent part of her practice, exploring the texture of the paper’s surface and what it might provide in terms of its physicality as well as its symbolism. She rarely makes marks on the paper, but sometimes erases residue from burning or other treatments. There is a sense of self-embodiment in much of her work and in using the paper to make other forms, such as boxes; they feel as though they were made from a handmade membrane. This version of “skin” is made from the seemingly endless stream of paper products flooding the landscape.

Influenced by Indigenous survivance and cultural methodologies, my practice has become meditative allowing me to process the damaging effects of colonialism, stereotyping, and historical traumas.

—Mikayla Patton (Oglala Lakhota)


Patton’s LIFT project, Paper Installation, will feature hand-made papers inspired by sound, to consider space, movement, and atmosphere as part of the overall impetus of the work. As a sustainable practice, the paper will be made from scrap materials from books, mail, and donations from community members. The paper pulp will then be made into sculptural forms. After drying and flattening the paper, laser-cutting and etching will be utilized to create designs that are informed by Lakota motifs. The themes that will be addressed in the work include Native identity, the environment, materiality, futurism, sustainability, and the body. During the entire process, from gathering to installing, the process will be documented to use as a part of the final installation.