“I want to focus on elevating Native American art, so it’s globally recognized and respected.” That’s the heart motivation behind Sheyenne Sky’s work with Turquoise Skies. It’s what drives her education and her chosen career. The best thing for the artists she works with is she knows a bit about going global.
Born a member of the Diné in Raton, New Mexico, Sheyenne has lived all over the world. Her father got a job in Indonesia and the rest of the family followed him there after a few months. Since then, she’s lived in Colombia, Zambia and Mongolia.
The family was back in Albuquerque when Sheyenne graduated high school. At the time, she was dating someone from Mongolia, and decided to move to New York City to be with him. Her desire for a non-traditional education led her to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Sheyenne received an AA in Advertising and Marketing but felt that the classes were not as art based as she’d hoped. What she studied was more “algorithms and math”, so she went on to study Art History. Those courses led her to understand some of the problems facing Native American artists.
Native artists face several issues when it comes to marketing their work. There are those who rip off their designs or flood the market with lower priced and lower quality copies. Materials are expensive and acquiring tools can be a hurdle for some. Creating a name for themselves in the market, and in the art world, can also be a challenge. Getting their work recognized and treated as Fine Art can be difficult for Native American artists. It’s a problem Sheyenne understands and sees as a way she can use her education and her skills to change things.
She’d like to see Native artists’ work exhibited in places such as the Museum of Modern Art or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Asked about the difficulty of breaking into those types of exhibits, Sheyenne says “I think if I’d started twenty years ago it would’ve been difficult, but today the groundwork has been laid for me. The Met has a collection of Native American art they will be presenting in their American Art section so finally we’re getting the recognition we deserve in huge institutions like that."
As to her work with Native artists and how they can present and market it, Sheyenne says artists should do their research and find out what’s been tried and what’s been done. If they focus on that, she feels they can hone in on reaching those platforms that will bring national and international recognition to their work. First and foremost, however, she feels that “the artist needs to think that it’s possible.” A belief in their work and the confidence to go after the market are vital to their success.
Sheyenne’s skills and talents are a excellent addition to Turquoise Skies and what she brings to the company will enhance its ability to further the careers of Native artists. She says that she had been thinking of starting such a company and was happy to find that Turquoise Skies shares the same vision and integrity she wanted hers to have. It’s a benefit to us to have her on board.