There’s a piercing new awareness across our land today regarding women’s voices and their right to an open, credible forum in which for them to be heard. From big cities to small towns a new paradigm is evolving and stands to become one of the most powerful movements of 2018 and beyond.
Lynnette Haozous — artist, actor, writer, poet, activist — is poised to register her voice among the many other women who are speaking up in the broader context but, more intimately, in her own cultural one.
“Native women are more likely to be subjected to oppression, are more likely to disappear, be raped or murdered and never heard from again,” Haozous said. “We simply cannot be marginalized. I’m raising my voice through my art, whose recurring theme is the strong matriarchy that exists within our cultures and with the hope to awaken people to that which matters.”
This intriguingly bold young woman will host a live painting reception Friday, (Feb. 2), sponsored by FaraHNHeight Fine Art Gallery and in the Taos Ski Valley outside of Rhoda’s Restaurant. From 1-5 p.m., Haozous’ audience will experience in real time her mixed media acrylic and spray paint process while also viewing samples of her previous works. The reception is free and family friendly. Refreshments will be served.
In a press release from FaraHNHeight, Haozous is noted as an artist whose “vibrant traditional patterns and … eclectic color schemes and strong portraits of resilient, indigenous women … exemplifies the contemporary style of the indigenous female artist.”
Yet the intricacies of Haozous’ art defy categorization, leaping from the screen to the street and beyond.
In 2012, Haozous was one of four female Native American artists to be featured in a documentary titled “Apache Chronicle,” directed by Nanna Dalunde. She explained, “I was working with artist Doug Miles (a fellow Apache Native from the San Carlos reservation in Arizona) who puts his art on skateboards and also has a renowned skateboard team. He was approached by a Swedish film student, Nanna Dalunde, who wanted to tell our Native story.”
Appearing in the documentary as Lozen, the prophetess, medicine woman and fabled military strategist who rode alongside Geronimo, Haozous was able to fully appreciate the depth of her heritage. “Men aren’t the only warriors,” she said. “Women are warriors, too.”
From both Doug Miles and her collaboration with artist Jay Smiley, Haozous perfected the art of murals involving spray painting and stenciling. Her work on the outside wall of the FaraHNHeight gallery caught the eye of a Colorado architect who was looking to establish an artist’s residence in Costillo.
“I was selected as a female muralist to paint this new home, and am honored to set the tone for the other women artists who will be residing here,” she said. Haozous also has a mural in the recently opened Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque’s Old Town.
Haozous also received the 2012 Nativo Lodge in Albuquerque’s Southwest Association for Indian Art Artist In Residency designation, through which she was given studio space to create. In 2017, she was rewarded a Nativo Artist Room Residency at the same property.
Nativo Lodge, a part of Heritage Hotels and Resorts, Inc., is “the first property operated [by us] to include contemporary Native American artist rooms where you can stay in a large-scale installation art,” according to its website. The “Sunrise Blessing” room, which is Haozous’ creation, celebrates the White Painted (Shell) Woman, who is an integral part of Apache legend and culture.
“She brought gifts to our people, and our Sun Dance celebrates her,” Haozous said. “Each time the dance is performed, her gifts to our people come back to us. I wanted to capture that in my design of the room. It’s another example of a powerful feminine voice.”
Haozous, whose ancestry hails not only from the Chiricahua Apache (San Carlos) but from Taos Pueblo and Diné tribes as well, grew up in Phoenix yet often traveled to the lands of her relatives.
“It was a lot of moving around, but in spending the time with my family in each of these places, I developed a profound connection to all sides of my ancestors, and each has had an influence on my work,” she said.
After her recent participation in the Water Protector protests at Standing Rock, South Dakota, Haozous returned to New Mexico traumatized but humbled, with a renewed understanding of our innate connection to nature. “The water, the earth: These are the only things that matter,” she noted. “On my return, I couldn’t worry about celebrity gossip or other such nonsensical things. All I could think of is the heaviness of where the world is going. I knew I needed to address those thoughts.”
“Art became my medicine and my therapy,” Haozous continued.
She did return to Albuquerque to join forces battling the fracking of Chaco Canyon, but realized she was being called back to Taos in an artistic endeavor that would have her finding comfort in the recurrent theme of her family’s past and her obligation to move that forward.
Particularly close to her late grandfather, Jimmy Kaye Lujan, Sr., the soft-spoken yet emotionally fierce Haozous now dedicates herself to “the sisters for whom I can give a voice.” Hers is a voice that is not only genuine but wise beyond her years.
Rhoda’s Restaurant is located at 116 Sutton Place in Taos Ski Valley. For more information on Haozous’ live performance, contact FaraHNHeight Fine Art at (575) 751-4278.