Native American Artist Melanie Yazzie to Exhibit in Westtown School Gallery

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Navajo artist Melanie Yazzie, a 1984 graduate of Westtown School who is now a professor of art at the University of Colorado, returns to Westtown for an exhibition of her work which opens September 11. Yazzie will also teach printmaking classes to Westtown's advanced art students during a weeklong residency.

Melanie Yazzie

Returning to Westtown to have an art exhibition fills a part of me that I cannot express in words. The art education I received many years ago still guides me.

Westtown School graduate Melanie Yazzie returns to the school September 9 to open an exhibit of her work in the school's art gallery. As an artist-in-residence for the following week, she will also teach printmaking to students in advanced art classes. Yazzie, a Navajo printmaker, sculptor and painter who graduated from Westtown in 1984, is Associate Professor of Art at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Westtown, a private college prep school located in West Chester, PA, serves 650 young people in grades pre-K - 12. Founded by Quakers in 1799, the school prepares students for global citizenship and ethical leadership in a connected world.

Melanie Yazzie is a Dine (Navajo) artist of the Salt and Bitter Water clans. Born in 1966 in Ganado, AZ, in the Navaho nation, Yazzie came to Westtown in 1981. She studied with teacher Caroline Loose, who is curating the upcoming show entitled "Pathways, Balance."

"Returning to Westtown to have an art exhibition fills a part of me that I cannot express with words," says Yazzie. "The art education I received many years ago still guides me. It inspires me. Caroline Loose believed in me and it was her support and her teaching that helped me choose printmaking as a career. I feel she always guides her students with heart and it makes a huge difference in our lives!"

Yazzie’s art is filled with imagery from her own personal experience and identity. "My artwork is culturally based in my heritage of being a Diné (Navajo) person. The artworks stem from the thought and belief that what we create must have beauty and harmony from within ourselves, from above, below, in front, behind and from our core. We are taught to seek out beauty and create it with our thoughts and prayers. I feel that when I am making my art, be it a print, a painting or a sculpture, I begin by centering myself and thinking it all out in a 'good way', which is how I was taught from an early age. My work speaks about travel and transformation."

Westtown School’s emphasis on environmental sustainability has also been an influence on Yazzie, who works to create safe, non-toxic methods of printmaking in a medium where toxic chemicals are commonly used.

Melanie Yazzie has exhibited nationally and internationally, and her art is featured in many museums worldwide. A reception honoring Yazzie and open to the public will be held in the Westtown Art Gallery from 5-7pm on Tuesday, September 11.

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