2021 Fellowship Award Recipient
A.Thompson (ATA) is a self taught artist from the Navajo Nation Reservation located in Lukachukai, Arizona. She has been painting since 2010 after completing her rehilbiltation program. “Growing up on the Navajo Reservation was hard due to poverty, lack of mentorship and being surrounded by drugs and alcohol but I have always been influenced by art. Art saved my life in so many ways than one. I can remember using art as an escape path when things were bad or when I was sad in my childhood days and even in my adult life today.”
ATA never really considered art as a career choice but after completing rehab something made sense with the Arts and her future. She then decided to continue her education and focus on expressing herself through painting. Starting in 2010, within 5 years time, ATA managed to earn her Masters in Health Care Administration and moved home to the Navajo Reservation after living in Phoenix, AZ for over 15 years. She found that her indigenouse contemporary art was not only an outlet but a new career change and a mentorship for the youths. She has since traveled the country sharing her art and her story, “I use my emotions to express my art. I take from the day or from the previous day and feel the paintings or sculptures. I don’t approach a piece with an idea, I let the emotions take over and guide me…I let the art breath and come alive. I don’t control it.”
In 2019, ATA decided to fully committee to her art career and leave the healthcare industry. She now uses her art as a healing therapeutic reflection of her life, her journey and most importantly, her Indigenouse culture, ensuring the world that being indigenouse is more powerful than previous decades. “I was in New York on the subway after a show and a random guy kept looking at me. He finally asked where I was from and I told him, I was from Arizona, the Navajo Reservation. I’m Native American, Navajo. He was shocked and said “Holy S–T! You people are still alive?!…This is when I decided to change my art and I started to bring a new approach to my style by collaborating my culture with the modern contemporary style. By moving creativity from the normal indigouse art style and started adding symbols and designs in an abstract form to represent the Navajo ways of life.” ATA has shown her paintings, sculptures, and jewelry work all over the country in shows, galleries and has recently completed an exhibition in Genoa, Italy the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
In August of 2019, ATA moved to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to earn her Bachelor in Studio Arts but due to the pandemic and galleries closed, she relocated home to the Navajo Reservation. But that hasn’t stopped her from producing art in new ways. She recently taught herself screen printing and has been working on a collection for an upcoming organization to help the Navajo people during the pandemic. ATA loves to work with organizations and schools, by donating her art and time to assist those who need it. She is always working with an upcoming artist, advising and suggesting new ways to help them grow in style and in the art world. ATA not only wishes to succeed but she really wants the Native Youths to succeed in their education and art dreams.