Demian DinéYazhi’ is a Portland-based transdisciplinary warrior born to the clans Tódích'íí'nii (Bitter Water) and Naasht'ézhí Tábąąhá (Zuni Clan Water's Edge) of the Diné (Navajo). He received his BFA in Intermedia Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2014. He is the founder and director of the artist/activist/warrior collective, RISE: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment, which is dedicated to the education and perseverance of Indigenous art and culture. He has contributed to the successful curation and organization of multiple exhibitions, including "WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: HIV/AIDS-Related Art & Activism, BURY MY ART AT WOUNDED KNEE: Blood & Guts in the Art School Industrial Complex, Survivance: An Indigenous Art & Poetry Intervention, and One Flaming Arrow: an Inter-tribal Art, Music, & Film Festival.
Demian's work as an artist can be understood through the lens of curatorial inquiry, zine production, street interventions, education, workshops, and transdisciplinary methods of art production. Between his artwork, poetry/writing, curation, and his work with R.I.S.E, Demian is continually researching, exploring, and implementing innovative ways of addressing complex concepts that are the blood and guts of his work. Growing up in the colonized lands of the american southwest, the evolution of his work has been influenced by a heavy exposure to traditional Diné culture and spirituality, matrilineal upbringing, and the importance of intergenerational knowledge. His work is rooted in Radical Indigenous Queer Feminist politics, landscape representation, memory formation, HIV/AIDS-related art and activism, gender, identity, and sexuality, Indigenous Survivance, and Decolonization.
The late artist David Wojnarowicz once wrote, "If I were to leave this country and never come back or see it again in films or sleep I would still remember a number of different things that sift back in some kind of tidal motion." A similar thought process is activated in the creative practice of Demian's work; most notably when contemplating how an Indigenous Queer body navigates space in post-apocalyptic Native america. Whether he is broaching topics adjacent to Decolonization, Survivance, and Queerness in written or visual language, Demian is caught in a narrative that is informed by romanticized notions of belonging and the alienation experienced through centuries of forced assimilation to white patriarchal capitalist supremacy.
Through his indoctrination into the privileged white walls of the Art School Industrial Complex, Demian acknowledges the importance of critiquing mainstream contemporary art spaces. By participating in the contemporary art world, galleries, and museums, he also recognizes how crucial the existence of non-traditional, alternative spaces are to helping disrupt the white noise of modern art. In order to deconstruct the contemporary art movement and the fortification of western historical narratives, Decolonizing and working outside the jurisdiction of these institutions becomes a critical component in assisting in the affirmation and evolution of the art, culture, history, and lived experiences of marginalized peoples.