Nani Chacon has more than twenty years of experience painting in public spaces. Early on, she began as a graffiti artist, learning and growing from the challenges the medium presented. Chacon worked to develop her technical skills as a large-scale painter, excelling in scale, color, design, composition and style. The experience also taught her about the public connection to art, marginalization in a public space, and how to reclaim space through community-based art. Chacon received a Bachelor of Arts in education, and has always felt that the importance of developing a skill and practice was to one day be able to share that knowledge with others.
Chacon’s site-specific public art projects are community focused in that she directly collaborates and engages with the people from the community in which the work will be placed. Through conversations and research, her work reflects the landscape and people of that space. Chacon’s murals often address Indigenous thought, aesthetics, and identity, and, in effect, offer visibility to and empower Indigenous people. She places deep value in creating artworks that are accessible and offer the viewer a space in which they might contemplate important cultural and political connotations as they relate to the place in which the work is exhibited.
For the 2020 Mentor Artist Fellowship, Chacon will pass on her knowledge and skills to empower her apprentice, Lynnette Haozous (Chiricahua Apache [San Carlos Apache Tribe], Diné, Taos Pueblo), to excel as a female Indigenous muralist. Chacon and Haozous will work together to design, produce and install a mural project within the Navajo Nation. This hands-on experience will teach her apprentice how to work and collaborate with communities and how to coordinate a large-scale pubic art project. In addition, the two artists will work side by side to help build her apprentice’s technical skills and approach to producing murals and other public work.
In receiving this mentor fellowship, I am committed to sharing this knowledge with another indigenous woman to break down stigmas and open doors, to shift the narrative and create visibility. I feel this is a responsibility not only to other indigenous woman interested in the field of mural arts, but also to the art form its self.
– Nani Chacon