Forgotten Culture Focus of WOCI Artist-In-Residence

Using her art to shine a spotlight on Indigenous voices, traditions, and ecology, Nanibah Chacón is bringing her message and talent to Michigan State University as the Fall 2018 Womxn of Color Initiative (WOCI) Artist-in-Residence.

A painter, muralist, and art educator from New Mexico, Chacón creates public murals and artworks that engage community and the local landscape. Her work, which captures Indigenous traditions and philosophy, provokes thought and discourse surrounding Indigenous culture and feminism.

During her MSU residency, which runs October 3 through November 3, Chacón will focus her work on stories, relationships, and the feminine and their relevance to the environment and site specificity.

woman standing in front of painting of woman with blue hair and blue bird flying out of her hand
Nanibah Chacón, the Fall 2018 Womxn of Color Initiative (WOCI) Artist-in-Residence

"Nanibah Chacón is one of the most significant muralists working today," said Estrella Torrez, Associate Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and one of the organizers of the Womxn of Color Initiative. "In addition to creating exceptionally beautiful works of art, her paintings address complex and poignant topics by foregrounding the stories of Indigenous womxn and Indigenous knowledges. Nanibah’s residency is part of a collective and shared vision to make the work of Indigenous and womxn of color central to the intellectual and artistic life of Michigan State University. We are grateful that her important work will become part of the greater Lansing community."

Essential to Chacón’s work is the research, planning, and community involvement, and her time at MSU will prove to be no different. She will host a series of listening sessions with elders, students, and community participants in the Great Lakes region to exchange stories and gain knowledge that will inform the mural she plans to create in the city of Lansing.

Nanibah Chacón is one of the most significant muralists working today...We are grateful that her important work will become part of the greater Lansing community.

Associate Professor Estrella Torrez

The production of this work will be a unique site-specific mural informed by the community of Lansing. This piece will engage the viewer in dialogue with the content the community put forth. 

The mural will be unveiled on Sunday, October 28, at a special event held to celebrate the creation of the work and the efforts of all involved.

A practicing artist in public works for more than 20 years, Chacón holds a B.A. in Art Education from the University of New Mexico. Her work has been shown across the United States and internationally.

She created the largest mural in New Mexico. Titled Resilience, the mural can be found at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque. She also has completed murals at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona, and the Municipal Arts Gallery in Izhevsk, Russia.

painting of a woman in a yellow dress with butterfly on her hand
"Resilience" mural painted by Nanibah Chacón at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is the largest mural in that state.

The MSU Womxn of Color Initiative aims to create spaces for students to be in conversation with each other and engage with women of color faculty, guest speakers, staff, and community members. It is organized by MSU faculty Yomaira Figueroa, Estrella Torrez, Tamara Butler, Delia Fernandez, Maribel Santiago, and Leslie Gonzales. The graduate coordinators for 2018-2019 are Olivia Furman and Briona Jones. The initiative is supported by the College of Arts & Letters, Department of English, American Indian and Indigenous Studies, the Residential College in the Arts & Humanities, Chicano/Latino Studies, and the Center for Gender in Global Contexts.