Tyra Huyana Blackwater
September 16 – December 16, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 16 | 5 to 7pm

A collaborative project by Tyra Huyana Blackwater and Nihi K’é Baa’ (For Our Relatives) in /room/, juried by Aaron Harbour and Jackie Im.

List of Works | Indigenous Rematriation: In conversation with Tyra Huyana Blackwater and Kim Smith

Nihi K’é Baa’ (For Our Relatives) is a collective of Indigenous grassroots organizers working in Diné Bikeyah (traditional Diné Homelands now known as New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah) to provide mutual aid and healing to the land. In 2021, Nihi K’é Baa’ cleaned and restored a historical landfill in Ch’íhootsooí (St. Micheals, Arizona) that began with settler-owned trading posts and churches that were colonizing the area. Historically, settlers brought materials to Diné Bikeyah that they were unable to naturally dispose of. Today, access to landfills and transfer stations is limited across the reservation, making illegal dumping prevalent in many areas.

During the restoration project of Nihi K’é Baa’, they found artifacts that told the history of the land: a large stack of degrading Navajo Times newspapers, cans from the trading post era, and wagon wheels. Even after restoration, many artifacts remain, some even grow into the land and take permanent residence in the soil. Tyra Huyana Blackwater’s series, Remnants, documents the lasting presence of the landfill, telling the story of this once-abandoned site that has been given the opportunity to heal.

To make a donation to Nihi K’é Baa’ please donate through venmo @For-Our-Relatives.

Tyra Huyana Blackwater is a multidisciplinary Diné artist from the Navajo Reservation. She received a B.A. in Art Practice from Stanford University in 2023 with Honors in Interdisciplinary Arts. Her honors thesis, nizhónígo nihaa ’ádahałyą́ – they are taking good care of us, was awarded the Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities and Creative Arts. She has exhibited in the Stanford Art Gallery, Coulter Gallery, and the Mohr Gallery. She comes from the Red Bottom Cheeks and Between his Sleeves clans, and is taught by her relatives and matriarchs. Her artwork exists at the intersection of traditional and contemporary art and is deeply inspired by her relations and the beauty of her homelands. For Blackwater, artistic creation is a broader community project as opposed to an individual act, challenging limiting perspectives to expand artistic agency.

Nihi K’é Baa’ (For Our Relatives) is a diverse collective composed of Indigenous individuals, undocumented migrant relatives, womxn, femmes, LGBTQ2Spirit relatives, volunteers, community organizers, frontline workers, and land defenders/water protectors. Together, they are united in their mission to provide essential support to those who are most vulnerable in various ways. In light of the damage inflicted upon our land by the fossil fuel industry and years of extreme resource extraction, Nihi K’é Baa’ is committed to focusing on long-term solutions and support for their communities. Their collective seeks to heal the land and promote self-sustainability through the implementation of projects that prioritize the well-being of the people. Their vision encompasses the principles of seed and food justice/sovereignty, aiming to create a future where communities have control over their own food systems and access to nutritious sustenance.