Celebratory Opening of Vanessa Yava’s Exhibit

It was raining outside but protected and cozy under the enclosed eaves of the museum as attendees of the latest exhibit enjoyed the candlelit reception for Vanessa Yava. Vanessa spoke about her family, her father Aaron who inspired her and who is also in the show, her life experiences in Arizona and the Bay Area, and kachina dolls, also in the exhibit. Vanessa, her mom Cynthia Mclean, and board members Tory Canby and Dana Hawke provided delicious pozole, an Indigenous corn and chocolate drink called champurrado, sopapillas, roasted chimayo squash and buffalo enchiladas.


Most of the paintings by Vanessa and Aaron are in oil although a few are in acrylic. Some of the viewers' favorites are “Happy Anniversary” by Aaron, highlighting Vanessa as a child surrounded by her proud, smiling parents and “Talking to the Creator” of a kneeling warrior with a strong arm from above reaching out to him, reflecting the connection to creator through ceremony. Vanessa’s “Don’t Judge” reveals a young Indian woman defiantly smoking a cigarette on a graffiti-covered city street. In a similar vein we see her ”Urban Native Looking at Oakland Skyline.”


There are a good number kachinas, including several by Aaron Yava and others from Hopi artists curated by Vanessa from her and Dana’s private collection. Above one kachina of a dancing figure is a contemporary version by her, in acrylic, of the same figure wearing a gas mask for protection against pollution. We wish to thank Vanessa for loaning her and her father's work to the museum for this exhibit. We are very fortunate to have such talented Indigenous artists featured.


The exhibit will be up until mid-May and is not to be missed. Sorry, no more buffalo enchiladas.



Museum of the American Indian

2200 Novato Blvd. 

Novato CA 94947

Phone:  415.897.4064

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