We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Wapaha and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica, why did you pursue a creative career?
Art has always been part of my everyday life. My father was a medical lab tech, musician and an illustrator, my mother was a teacher and a master beader, and my grandmother was a traditional Apache artist who made traditional regalia and baskets. I was always surrounded by art. Pursuing it was natural, I worked for various programs that included working with the youth, adults, and even opening a café and gallery. Working in these programs and hosting my own art shows, art competitions, and art workshops I realized that the community loved these events. On the reservation there aren’t a lot of places for artists to develop creatively and that is something that I’ve been very interested in; creating art programs and events for my community.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am White Mountain Apache and Tohono O’odham from Cedar Creek, Arizona. Growing up on the Fort Apache Indian reservation has contributed to who I am as a person and has had a major impact on me as an artist. Many different situations in my life, positive and negative have also influenced me and my art. I am a single mother with three beautiful children, and they have motivated me to continue with my career in fine art. In 2013 I earned my BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After attending IAIA I went home to the reservation where I worked for various programs that included working with the youth, adults, and even opening a café and gallery. Working in these programs and hosting my own art shows, art competitions, and art workshops I realized that the community loved these events. On the reservation, there aren’t a lot of places for artists to develop and that is something that I’ve been very interested in; creating art programs. So, in 2019 I earned my MFA from Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts from Arizona State University.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spots in the city are the art galleries and museums around town. It’s always good to support local art and artists. There are a lot of great art shows that are up right now.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my family. They have always been supportive of my art career. Without the love and support from them, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did.
Twitter: Monica Wapaha
Facebook: Monica Wapaha