About gallupARTS’ 2018 Native-Artist-in-Residence Program

A majority-Native selection committee selected Diné photographer Hannah Manuelito as gallupARTS’ summer 2018 Native Artist-in-Residence, having received 16 very worthy, moving and inspiring applications for its inaugural Native Artist-in-Residence Program from artists across the region, from Gallup to Zuni to Window Rock. Supported in part by a $10,000 “Challenge America” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), gallupARTS’ Native Artist-in-Residence program is designed to provide an emerging Native artist from the Gallup, New Mexico region the rare paid opportunity and much-needed resources (i.e., space, materials, and time) to create original works of art responding to a relevant, community-based social justice issue. The program also engages the broader community with the selected Artist-in-Residence, their project, and their chosen issue through different forms of free and accessible public programming: open studio hours, artist talks and youth workshops. The program culminates in a month-long show of the Artist’s work at ART123 Gallery.

About the Hannah Manuelito

Originally from Ganado, Arizona, Ms. Manuelito recently graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. At ASU, Ms. Manuelito explored the convergences and divergences between the cultures and places in which she grew up: rural and urban, Navajo and non-Navajo, “traditional” and non-traditional. Ms. Manuelito now works for the Native American clothing brand OxDx Clothing, utilizing her fine arts background to create innovative high fashion photographs for the company.

Follow her on Instagram @itshannahduhhhhh.

About Hannah’s Residency Project

by Hannah Manuelito

As gallupARTS’ Artist-in-Residence, Hannah strove “to bring light and truth to Indigenous identity through portraiture work of the most crucial part of Diné culture, the matriarchs.” Hannah says that having grown up partially on the Navajo Nation but mostly in an off-reservation city, she struggled with her identity: “I questioned if I was a ‘true’ Native or not, and that haunted me for years.” Now, she wants to empower Indigenous people to be proud of themselves however they identify by honoring who she sees as culture-bearers: the mothers, aunties, and grandmas who raised her. “Matriarchs are the backbone of the Indigenous culture,” says Hannah. “By taking portraits of these important figures, I want to bring forth how strong and important these women are and how many different forms they take. Some may be businesswomen, firefighters, politicians, young athletes and aspiring artists. We all don’t wear traditional clothing but we all respect and carry important Diné teachings.”

From May through July, Hannah worked in her studio inside ART123 Gallery in downtown Gallup, creating on a series of bold, powerful, beautiful and intimate photographic portraits of the influential Indigenous women in her life. For her project, she drew on the style and methodology of Baroque era painting: “Thinking back to early art history, the Baroque period had many depictions of saintly women. Using dramatic lighting, Baroque paintings emphasize women’s strength. I would love to do the same with my portraits, placing Diné women in the scenery around the Diné Nation and staging and lighting them to show their grandeur.”

Hannah’s residency culminated in a solo show of her work at ART123 Gallery–photos below!

Watch a mini-documentary to go “behind the scenes” of Hannah’s residency: 

This project is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as contributions from the Southwest Indian Founation, gallupARTS Board Members and private donors. Thank you!