Native Youth Artist Shares Design for Pride Month

CNAY Staff asked Darby Raymond-Overstreet (Diné) to share her work and experience as a young, LGBTQ2S artist. Darby was selected by CNAY as the winner of the Creative Native contest and has her artwork featured on the cover of the 2018 State of Native Youth Report. Check out more of Darby's artwork in her online portfolio here

Yáʼátʼééh! My name is Darby Raymond-Overstreet, I am Diné, originally from Northern Arizona, and I am a Digital Artist and Printmaker based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In my art, I study, work with, and create Navajo pattern designs that manifest in portraiture, landscape, collage, and various digital compositions.

Creating art has been such an integral part of my life, as it has always served as the most natural way for me to convey my thoughts. It first started as a simple outlet for my creativity, but through mentorship and courses in college, it grew to become the most powerful way for me to study and learn about the subjects, that in my eyes, were the most important and impactful on my life and on the lives of my friends and relatives. I started creating work that pertained to issues and topics that affected my people, Native Peoples across the continent, and Native identity at large.

From this place of creation and growth, I developed my voice as a Native artist. Through my work, I have become completely impassioned by the strength and fortitude of my ancestors and relatives, and by the power and beauty that resides within all Native Peoples. It’s my mission to make work that speaks to my people and to our allies in an effort to inspire engaging dialogue about the topics that affect our communities. For this reason, and with much gratitude, I am happy to share this Rainbow design in celebration of Pride Month.

I created this rainbow design because I needed a symbol that I could identify with, and that expressed my pride as a Native person within the LGBTQ community. This design came to me when I finally reached a place of full acceptance with myself as I am, after years of suppressing the queer aspect of my identity. Being raised in a reservation border town, there was constant social tension which quickly taught me that being White, Straight, and Cis-Gendered would provide more comfort than being who I was inherently. As a result, I felt the pressure to conform, but that's not who I am or who I ever could be. I am a Queer Diné Woman, who’s love and existence won’t be limited by the strict norms of a white heteropatriarchal society. I feel it’s my responsibility to myself, to my ancestors, and to those who are still to come, to be who I am unapologetically and to love myself and others as we know ourselves to be.

Creating this design was my way of integrating myself into the celebration of unrestricted love, and to demonstrate my love of who I am. I decided to share this piece so that other Native people could feel represented and would have an image they could identify with to show their pride as a Native person within the LGBTQ community as well. This comes during a time in which Queer Native identities are gaining recognition after hundreds of years of being silenced and forgotten at the hands of colonial violence and the ensuing lateral oppression within our communities.

I anticipate that Queer Native Peoples’ voices will continue to amplify as we welcome and celebrate the love we have for ourselves and others, and I am happy to contribute my art and my voice to this cultural shift.

 

Contact CNAY Communications Coordinator Joshua Bertalotto at joshua.bertalotto@aspeninstitute.org with any questions, concerns, or media inquiries. 

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