Melissa Shaginoff

Tribe: Ahtna / Paiute
Based In: Anchorage, AK
Social Media: @mshaginoff

About the Art
As an artist and curator, and as an Indigenous woman, I find myself inundated with both internal and external questions framed to either challenge or beg explanation of ‘how much.’ How much of an academic, a professional, an ally, an activist, a woman, and a Native am I? My artwork explores these questions of identity: how we relate, differ, and interact with each other. Delivered through a combination of customary Indigenous and Western methods, my output addresses my research, cultural values, and persistence while creating in primarily Western spaces. My favorite quote is by Maya Angelou: ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ I aim to examine, critique, and change one’s perceptions of identity, so we may move to a place where we are no longer questioning our own or one another’s experience by any measure of ‘how much.’

About the Artist
Melissa Shaginoff is part of the Udzisyu (caribou) and Cui Ui Ticutta (fish-eater) clans from Nay'dini'aa Na Kayax (the log over the river or Chickaloon Village). She grew up on the southern coast of Alaska where she learned the lifeways of her cousins the Dena’ina peoples. Shaginoff is currently the Curator of Contemporary Indigenous Art and Culture at the Anchorage Museum. As both an Artist and Curator her work revolves around identity and representation. Working within institutions Shaginoff sees her work as an act of making space. Space for others, space for change and space to be present. She has participated in the Sheldon Jackson Museum Artist Residency in Sitka, Alaska as well as the Island Mountain Arts Toni Onley Artist Project in Wells, British Columbia. Shaginoff has work collected by the Institute of American Indian Arts, the Palmer Museum and the Pratt Museum.