Self-taught artist from the Navajo Reservation

January 2020

There isn't much to say but art saved my life. It literally saved my life from my previous life. Without art, I would have probably been dead or somewhere out there lost. I can honestly remember waking up everyday, looking around, looking at my hands and not believing I woke up again. I use to wish I was dead or that I would get hit by a bus or a car that day so I wouldn't live another day. I have always had this struggle with being who I am, where I was, and not liking my own face. I use to stare in the mirror disliking every inch of my face and in the end, I would tell myself "you worthless ugly shit" and flip myself off before I left the bathroom. For the most part, I remember always feeling this way about myself. And as I grew up the self hatred got more intense with society, the changes of my world, my family, my friends, and my usage of alcohol and drugs was the most important thing to me. Damn, I hated every ounce of my life and who I was. I felt, I like I  had no purpose and that I was a waste of flesh or that I was a mistake. I had no desire for any form of becoming a better person. I was completely hopeless. Drugs and alcohol was the only outlet I knew and I became a functional addict. Talking or reaching out to someone was a difficult process because I didn't want to waste anyones time or the fear of them not wanting to listen to me or them telling me I was an idiot and I was only feeling sorry for myself, blah blah. I mean, it got old and I didn't care to care at some point. I got high and drunk every chance I got. Even the grocery checkout people knew who I was because I was coming in for alcohol daily. There were days I didn't remember the weekend because I was out of my mind come Monday morning. It was like, "give me something to numb this pain, let me forget" kind of deal. My parents, family, had no idea what I was going through and I was living a hidden life of pain and I was just waiting to die. Man, I thought of so many ways to end my life but something always pulled me out, maybe it was this art life. But I've always had art in my life (now that I look back) and if I wasn't making art, I was talking about it. One evening, I was having dinner with a friend and I was sobered at that moment, I was locked on this painting across the room. My friend asked what I was looking at and I pointed and said  "That painting! That's something I want to do" and she looked at me and said, "Why don't you!?!?" My friend really tried to get me help, she was always there trying to keep me sobered or she would check on me to see if I ate. There were times, my body would cramp up and I hadn't slept in days. That evening never left my brain and my friend to this day she's still in my life. Art has always peaked its way into my days, to help me express and escape what I was struggling with inside. And when I say inside, I mean, not just inside my head, but inside my heart, inside my guts, my legs, my lungs, inside every cell...like inside my entire existence. Everything hurt and I was too fucked up to acknowledge it or ask for help. I had a process of staying numb and I'm ok. I can remember always feeling this way since I was a kid. I have always been alone, wondering around, having conversations with myself, being inside my head, imagining a perfect world which I had to leave to be apart of this reality. Its crazy how sad I really was. Even after all these years, I still find myself stuck in the past (it will never leave me, I know that) but I have learned to accept and live with who I am in a much healthier way. I know now, that I have the power to change and appreciate the bad along with the good. In December 2009, I want to say the 11th, I checked myself into an outpatient rehabilitation program after collapsing at school in one of the counselors office. I was emotional, spiritually drained..I was completely empty. I don't really remember what happened or what was said but I do remember her giving me an orange to take back to my apartment and to give it to my roommate who helped me also. She saw me go through the withdraws and constant pain of sobering up. I was so angry, upset, and self destructive, I don't know how she put up with me. But I've apologized and she's still a great friend to me. I think I can talk with her more than anyone else because she's seen me at my lowest point in life. So, I ended up at the Behavioral Health Center at Indian Hospital in Phoenix and received help for my alcohol, drug, and self hatred problems. The process alone was a killer because I was scared. They prescribe me depression medication, which I refused because I didn't believe was going to sober up if I was going to be medicated, it didn't make sense to me. Then, I came back a year later, gave them back their pills after they told me I wasn't going to make it. That I was going to relapse and fall right back into my old ways. That pissed me off so much and I was so determined to win and live. I learned so much about myself in rehab and I'm still continuing to learn more each day. I learned to let go of my past, my traumas, my self hatred and to love who I was and who I am now. I really learned to like my face. In my last counseling session right before I was discharged, my rehab coach (mid March 2010) stated that I needed to try a new form of expression to help me channel my anger so I can continue to improve on me. For me to try something I have never done before and I immediately thought of Art, painting. The whole time I was in rehab I drew on every paper that was given to me, I wonder if they still have them because we weren't allowed to keep them. I walked out of rehab graduation day at the end of March alone with my sobriety chip, an "I made it" shirt and a certificate of completion. No one knew I was in rehab, no now knew and I threw away my coin, my shirt, and certificate in the trash and never looked back. So July 2010, was the first time I had ever picked up a paint brush and I have not stopped since. It's been a beautiful 10 years of making art. I am extremely happy today. I mean I'm living in Chicago studying art at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. And.... I'm happy to say, I really like my face now. 

Stolen Sisters Exhibit - MMIW

Stolen Sisters Exhibit - MMIW

Whitewater, WI

Video

Indian Country Today Interview - 2014