Artist name: Marlena Myles
Artist location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Tell us about your style:
I’m self-taught and my art is created digitally, mainly in Adobe Illustrator. I use a lot of vivid colors to illustrator stories that feature symbols from my culture (Dakota), bringing modernity to ancient meanings.
How do you experience art?
Music and visual art are tied together in my mind, there’s no way I can create art without music. I think because I’m self-taught in visual arts but was trained in classical music composition my mind uses those technical methods of studying a musical score when explaining an artwork. When I first look at an art piece, I’m always drawn in by the emotions of the colors, the complexity or simplicity the artist needed to express their thoughts in the work. Then I study the layers, the movement of colors, as if it’s a musical composition stuck in time.
What is your creative process?
I tend to be more logical than emotional in my works. Many of my works are educational in the sense that I’m reading stories, studying philosophy, reading scholarly journals… the ingenuity I come across in those writings. I want to express that “data” to the viewer. So I come up with a visual language that connects the dots. As a person, I’m always curious about the world and the excitement of discovering new understandings constantly inspires new works.
What motivates you?
Removing ignorance in the world inspires me. It motivates me to study, to listen, be open-minded and that in turn, influences the meanings I want to convey in my artwork. I love the way children question the world and are open-minded by possibilities, so they are the ultimate motivators when it comes to seeing the world as an artist.
What woman artist inspires you most?
I’m inspired by my mother, aunts, grandmothers who all created traditional forms of Dakota beadwork, quillwork etc. My mother and grandmother always supported me as an artist and I wouldn’t be here today without them.
What piece of art in this world means the most to you?
Maybe people wouldn’t see it as a piece of art, but to me, the architecture and skyline of downtown Minneapolis has always represented a beacon of my place in the world, how to find my way home as a kid. I moved away from the twin cities for a time period as a kid, but always returned for summer vacations. Just seeing the skyline felt like a return to home and I’ll never forget that feeling.
Which artists are catching your attention this year?
She’s been on my radar for a long time now, but I really feel like she’s doing great things already this year. And I’m talking about Weshoyot, a Tongva comic book artist & illustrator. She’s bringing Native stories to comic books, video games and children 's books through her powerful art and she’s someone to admire as a leader in her field.
Anything you’d like to add?
Thanks for interviewing me!
Marlena Myles is a self-taught native artist that creates digital works that bring modernity to indigenous history. Her piece “Garden of Harmony” represents the wisdom that comes from connecting with Unci Make (Grandmother Earth).