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Meet Artist Tasha Nez - El Malpais Community Art Program

Tasha Nez with artwork

Tasha Nez with La Ventana Arch

The El Malpais Community Arts Program gives artists local to the area a chance to see their work displayed on public lands. Camisha Cordova, Outreach Coordinator for the Public Lands Interpretive Association, had the chance to speak with contributing artist Natalya “Tasha” Nez about her chosen career in art, why she creates, and to further get an idea of exactly just who Tasha is.  

When asked about why she creates, Tasha stated, “I come from a family of artists, so I have always been exposed to different art forms, and my mom is creative in everything she does whether it is cooking, beading, pottery or just problem-solving. “ 

She spoke highly of her mother; and her influence on Tasha's art: “she really fostered my creativity growing up. Anything I was remotely curious about or wanted to learn more about, she was the one who encouraged me and helped me to do that.” 

Tasha says that creativity is just something she is drawn to and something that her soul needs to do. 

A lot of her work is intuitively based. She speaks about her love of abstract lines, bold colors, and patterns.  

“I do on occasion create work that focuses on capturing the realism of a scene. I love paper collage, printmaking, painting, and photography, and in my work, I have been able to combine many of those things.” 


Detail image of collage work featuring La Ventana Arch

La Ventana Arch by Tasha Nez.

Tasha is Navajo, born in Gallup, New Mexico. She grew up in a few places including Pine Hill and Chichiltah here in New Mexico and in Valle, Arizona as a teenager. She moved around a lot as a kid but feels most connected to her maternal grandmother's home near Pine Hill on the Ramah-Navajo Reservation. It is the place that holds the most memories for her, and where her mother is originally from. 


Tasha has many inspirations and states that her mother's endless creativity has always been an inspiration for her. “Seeing her create something from nothing or finding new purposes for old things has weaved its way into my own life and has proved time and time again to be priceless.” 


Of course, there are other artistic influences that have inspired her, such as Henri Matisse’s paper works, collages by Picasso, and mixed media works by Max Ernst or Basquiat. Tasha states, “Their work is unparalleled, and I love studying their works.” 


“The thing I love most about my work is that it is limitless. I love combining all my interests to create my work. Some works combine collage, printmaking, photography, storytelling, history, etc. into a single piece.” 


Right now, you can catch some of Tasha’s mixed-media artworks at the Navajo Nation Museum. Currently, she is focusing on making work for future shows. Tasha has an upcoming show in January with Shandiin DeGroat at Black Wall Gallery & Events in Albuquerque, as well as participating in an art challenge by gallupARTS that culminates in a group show at Gallup’s ART123 Gallery in February. Some of her works are on consignment at the Qrious Pearl in El Morro Village, New Mexico and in Marco Arviso's Boutique in Window Rock, Arizona.  


Tasha was recently selected for a guest curator position for ART123 Gallery in Gallup, New Mexico for May of 2024, where she will be curating her own art show based around a social justice theme, which she will select. She also just finished illustrations which will be featured with, who have chosen five Indigenous artists to create an Activity Book for children which will be released this December.  


As far as future goals for Tasha are concerned, the sky is the limit. She states that right now, she would just like to continue “riding this wave I am on. I have had so many great opportunities this year to collaborate and make work for some incredible groups and individuals. I hope that in this coming year I will be able to do more of that and to be able to fund some of my bigger project ideas that I have.” 


When I asked Tasha her opinion on our program at El Malpais National Conservation Area, she told me, “I think the program itself is great. I really enjoyed the artist talk where we got to gather and tell everyone about our works. I love knowing that my work is going to be part of the permanent collection at the Ranger Station because the El Malpais area is a place that I grew up with and it is like my art made its way home but to a bigger audience. It is exciting. I really appreciate this opportunity. So, thank you all!” 

Detail of Summer at Churchrock, a landscape painting in an outline style.

Summer at Churchrock by Tasha Nez.


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