It will be coast-to-coast travels for artist Jhane Myers (Comanche/ Blackfeet) this holiday season. Myers, who hails from Santa Fe, New Mexico, is at the outset of a four-gallery-show run that will take her from California to Washington this winter.
Myers is a doll maker, jeweler, regalia maker and clothing designer who has been making dresses since the 1990s. She is also a traditional buckskin dancer, and one of this year’s First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership Fellows.
Having started her career by studying at the Fashion and Art Institute, and working for designer Ralph Lauren—Myers said her art has evolved over time, particularly during the last two years.
She attributes some of that to her work with First Peoples Fund, where she has received multiple fellowships and hopes to become an artist trainer someday. "People ask you 'how to' questions," she said, of other artists. "And, it's one of our Native core values to help each other. The support you get from First Peoples Fund makes you want to continue that generosity by helping others."
Having the resources to create art and then take it to the marketplace has helped transform who she is as an artist. “I’ve really grown professionally,” she said. “It gives you the confidence to have access to the tools you need to create. My art has really been elevated."
With a previous fellowship, Myers recreated a traditional Native recession dress, drawing on a wartime tradition to use canvasses from missionary tents to design dresses. This year, Myers allocated the grant toward completing a website.
Meyers said her business has benefited from having a quality site where people can become more educated about her work, contact her, or commission art. "It's just wonderful."
She also used some of the funding to purchase equipment and a new display set-up for art markets, including panels, banners and jewelry display pieces. She has attended the Santa Fe Indian Market every year since 2007 and said it was nice to have a high-quality set-up that showcased her art and attracted the eye. “People came by and commented on how great it looked,” she said.
Myers said she is busy right now trying to keep up with inventory, but has an eye to the future, particularly helping newer artists who might be following in her footsteps. Her advice includes following your dreams, and taking advantage of the practical tools and guides First Peoples Fund offers in the way of training and mentorship.
“First Peoples Fund gives you sustainability and comfort to know you can do this,” she said. “It’s scary once you’ve made that investment in your business, but you have to remember you’re investing in yourself and your art. It’s really made a difference for me.”