Nani Chacon received the Creative Capital Award in 2024. Chacon (b.1980 Gallup, New Mexico) is a Diné and Chicana artist who has been highly active in the public arts sector for over two decades. Although known for large scale murals, her practice expands across disciplines, including illustration and installation. Last year a major solo museum exhibition at SITE Santa Fe included rope installation pieces based on weaving patterns and large-scale paintings inspired by Diné creation stories. Her numerous mural projects focus on community engagement, addressing the complexity of contemporary Indigenous culture and identities. Chacon holds that art should be accessible and a meaningful catalyst for social change, that this is possible in works embedded with nuanced concepts and addressing urgent socio-political issues. Cultural repair and radical colonial resistance through masterful visual storytelling and retelling. These murals are reclamations of the spaces they inhabit.
Chacon received her bachelor’s in Education from the University of New Mexico in 2003. Her work in education informs her art practice; incorporating her proficiency in teaching in various projects taught formally at a graduate school level as well as with grassroots organizations and learning centers. Notable Projects have been supported by; National Endowment for the Arts, California Endowment for the Arts, US Consulate and Embassy in Russia, Obama Foundation, NM Public Arts Foundation, National Museum of Mexican Art Chicago, Navajo Nation Museum, National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the Museum of Native Contemporary Art. Her works have been on view at the Harwood Museum, SITE Santa Fe, the Phoenix Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, El Museo, Tucson Museum of Art, the Heard Museum, Mission Cultural Center of Latino Arts San Francisco, National Hispanic Cultural Center, and others. She is featured in the major new publication An Indigenous Present, edited by Jeffrey Gibson.
Our Gods Walk Among Us
Chacon is a Diné and Chicana artist. Her numerous projects focus on community engagement, addressing the complexity of contemporary Indigenous culture and identities.Artist Bio
Our Gods Walk Among Us is a site specific public art sculpture on The Navajo Nation, broadcasting community voices as inaudible wavelength transmissions via with an embedded FM radio transmitter. This sculpture will draw attention to the landscape just as industrial infrastructure in the region does. The form of this work will mimic 20th century wasp-waist steel lattice electrical transmission towers, while also closely mirroring traditional sand painting motifs of Yebicheiis, or Navajo Deities. Essential to the project is the community engagement aspect, in which Navajo community members will provide words of affirmation to be broadcast as inaudible wavelength transmissions from the sculpture; with the intention being that their words and affirmations now exist as wavelengths embedded in their community landscape. This project allows for the community to enact agency on our homelands by shaping and reclaiming the structural aesthetics and celebrating a relationship with it.
The design of the sculpture will dually reference the towers and the Yebicheiis, highlighting the commonalities between them while not being a replica of either; paralleling the structural shape of the towers and the geometric patterns present in the traditional sand paintings. Construction of the sculpture will consist of steel rod materials – indicative of wasp-waist lattice towers, with adornments and embellishments elevating the work from an industrial aesthetic and implying the divine form of Yebicheiis. Embedded into this sculpture, with a proposed height of 12′ – 15′, will be a low power FM transmitter, acknowledging that like electrical power lines, wavelengths are being emitted into our environments, with an understood implication both in modern technologies and in traditional ways of knowing and being for Navajo peoples. A partner in this project will be the Navajo Nation Museum.