Announcing the 2023 Creative Native Art Winners

Washington, DC: (January 1, 2024) — The Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute

CNAY is proud to announce the winners of the sixth annual Creative Native Call for Art. Creative Native was launched in 2018 to support Native American artists ages 5-24. The 2023 prompt focuses on the home and community of Native youth: What does home mean to you? 

From throughout the country, young people submitted their artistic response to the prompt. All submissions will be displayed in a virtual gallery. An artist between the ages of 15-24 will also be recognized as the grand prize winner and receive a $1,000.00 award. 

“We are continually inspired by the work of Native youth. This year’s call for art is affirmation that Native American youth are medicine,” says CNAY Executive Director Nikki Pitre, “we are grateful to our relative at the National Congress of American Indian for their continued partnership on this meaningful project.”

See below for our 2023 winners!

5 – 9 Years Old Category

Winner: Kenneth, 8 years old, Navajo, Comanche, Kiowa

Meet the Creative Native: Kenneth is in 2nd grade in Oklahoma. He is Navajo, Comanche and Kiowa. He loves to sing!

About the Submission: Home is the teepee and fireplace because that is where our family comes together to pray.

10-14 Years Old Category

Winner: Aydrian, 13 years old, Hochunk, Ojibwe, Odawa, Bodewadmi, Lakota

About the Submission: Your first home is your mother. Then it’s your cradleboard. When I was a baby that is where I spent most of my time. My cradleboard shows that love and the designs represent who I am and where I come from.  “Até Iyocicila” shows the love my Dad gave to me and the love I want to give my future kids with making their cradleboards and home. Home for me is all of my family, they all give good life, love and cultural lessons that’s how I came to be the artist and person I am today.

Meet the Creative Native: Aydrian comes from the Hochunk, Lakota, Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadmi. He lives Peshawbestown, Michigan and he cares about learning and keeping his culture alive through his art. By looking back at his my tribe’s ways, he wants to revitalize the awesome lifeways. He hopes by doing this it will inspire more youth to do the same. He first started beading when he was 3 and started to really invest his time beading when I was 7. For Aydrian, it is fun to learn new techniques and imagine he’s doing the same things as his ancestors.

10-14 Years Old Category

Winner: Clarissa Begay, 18 years old, Navajo

About the Submission: My art represents myself being home. When I look at the canyon, I admire the beauty of the colors of the rocks. Whenever I wear my jewelry that was made by my family members, that reminds me of how much I mean to them. I reminisce about my mother teaching me how to weave when I look at a rug. I drew a Tsiiyeel bun because I remember having my hair up in that bun during my Kinaalda. The jewelry in the piece is the jewelry I wore during the ceremony and holds a special place in my heart.

Meet the Creative Native: Clarissa is a high school senior in Colorado. Her artwork mediums consist of acrylic, Prismacolor Pencils, India Ink, graphite, and ink. She’s been featured in a district art show and won an Award of Excellence for one of her pieces. She is currently taking a Navajo Language and Navajo Government course to learn more about my culture. Through her artwork, she wants to be an advocate and teach others about Native culture. She always try to add some things into her art that portrays something about herself.

20 – 24 Year Old Category

GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Tori McConnell, 24, Enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe Karuk

About the Submission:

“I am from the spawning ground

It’s the one that we all know

At one time or another

We all swam from the same hole …”

Written by our local elder Brian D. Tripp, these words all of us can feel in our chest, in our souls. These days many young people will leave our homelands to go to college, start a career, grow. But we stay connected regardless of obstacles, time, or distance. Like the salmon, with the salmon, because of the salmon… we always return home. To the mountains, the river, the creeks, out families… the spawning ground.

Meet the Creative Native: Growing up, Tori was involved in arts of many forms including musical performance, singing, and visual arts. During college Tori’d artwork started gaining special recognition for her art activism for the Undamming of the Klamath River and in recent years she has been developing her digital art style and traditional basketry. She obtained her B.A. in Native American Studies from University of California, Davis and is currently a Master’s student at Cal Poly Humbolt while serving as the reigning 2023-24 Miss Indian World.