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Mentor Spotlight

Meet Nanibah “Nani” Chacon. Nani is a Dine (Navajo) and Chicana artist and currently serves as an artist mentor for the Green Architecture Project in Rwanda. Most recognized as a painter and muralist. Nani was born in Gallup, New Mexico, and grew up both in both Navajo Nation and New Mexico. Her most notable work has been within the public arts sector, in which she has a cumulative experience of over 20 years. She began a prolific career as a graffiti writer and continued this practice for the next ten years.
In 2005, she began exploring other mediums and developed a strong aptitude in painting, illustration, and design. In 2012, she returned to the public eye creating work on walls. Soon this work transpired to creating Murals and large-scale public works. A return to working on walls and in a public setting was a natural progression that facilitates the content of her work as well as a personal philosophy that art should be accessible and a meaningful catalyst for social change.
In 2003 she received her Bachelor in Education from the University of New Mexico. Community-based arts and educational integration are also a key component of the work Nani creates. Her work has been recognized for its unique style and attention paid to site-specificity, as well as the integration of socio political issues affecting women and indigenous people.
Nani has created works both Nationally and Internationally, working with multiple organizations and institutions. The most notable works were for the National Endowment for the Arts, California Endowment of the arts. US consulate and Embassy in Russia, NM Public Arts Foundation, National Museum of Mexican Art Chicago, Navajo Nation Museum, National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the Museum of Native Contemporary Art.

Indigenous Youth Spotlight

Meet Noella Nibakuze from Kigali, Rwanda. Noella is currently serving as an architectural design mentor for the women-led Green Architecture Project in Rwanda. Noella has been a Design Associate at MASS since 2017 and is a registered architect with 7 years of experience. As a Design Associate, Noella works on architectural design, construction administration, building technology, and sustainability.
Before being a Site Architect for the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, a 1400 ha campus in Bugesera District, she worked on the design of Masaka Affordable Housing project, a high-density and sustainable model for affordable housing in Rwanda set on a 5 ha site. Before joining MASS, Noella was an Architect at Studio 4 Architects in Rwanda, where she worked on housing complexes, residential units, hotels, and education facilities including Vision City Estate, the biggest residential housing project in Rwanda to date. She completed her Post-Graduate degree in Architectural Technology at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria in 2012.
Noella has an interest in projects that have a positive impact on vulnerable communities in Africa and hopes to improve people’s lives through a built environment that promotes sustainability and justice. In 2018, Noella participated in the United States’ TechWomen program as an Emerging Leader.

Related News

Meet Madeline “Maddie” Lamb (Mvskoke/Creek & Mojave) from Oklahoma. Maddie is a SONF Alumni member and has participated in two programs. In 2018 she was a participant in the inaugural Indigenous international: Digital National Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Maddie is currently a participant in the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project in Rwanda. Maddie previously attended the Institute for American Indian Arts and is now a graduating Senior at Fort Lewis College, where she is studying Communication Design. 
Meet Hataaliinez “Hataalii” Wheeler from Arizona. Wheeler is a SONF Alumni member and has been involved in the 2019 Native Collegiate Artist Residency. Wheeler is a natural born and multifaceted creative and our team has had the pleasure of watching his gifts manifest. Hataalii recently debuted his first album entitled “Banana Boy.” If you are into the alternative country style of music or just want to vibe out to some really great acoustics and vocals, please check out Wheeler’s new project!
Bignhi and FlyingRoots are an artist-collaborative duo of audiovisual-performative artists from Kigali, Rwanda. Together, they specialize in spoken word, video installation, and sound. Both Bignhi (also known as Cheryl Isheja) and FlyingRoots (also known as Natacha Muziramakenga) are participants in the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project in Rwanda. 

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