Rya Hueston (she/her) is a Diné (Navajo) and Hopi two-spirit artist from the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and First Mesa Pueblo. Her work comes from her exploration of cultural identity and gender: Rya uses multimedia works and sculptural installation to describe the nuance of being a displaced indigenous person and deconstruct the trauma of navigating the world as an AMAB trans person. Most of her work uses the language of found objects from 1800-1900, a particularly poignant time for Indigenous peoples across the continent that Rya finds rife with meaning, benefitting from reflection and acceptance of historical trauma. Her own gender presentation is rooted in her love for history and vintage, and the language of her work comes from her background in antique conservation and restoration, and as a vintage and antique clothing dealer.
“Combining elements of American folk and museum display, I use these pieces to challenge the viewer to examine inherently gendered objects and craft, and their relationship to the materials salvaged from my home on the Navajo Reservation and Natsisaan, the holy mountain. The objects are inherently domestic, but also deeply rooted to nature and the land, charging the works with the history of spaces navigated by two-spirit individuals in their tribal roles before colonialism. The products are intimate but allegorical portraits of the myself. They are made from materials and objects that hold sacredness. Euphoria is manifested through a diverse language of materials that range from person to person. For example, I get dysphoric from what other people might use that make them euphoric, and vice versa. The pieces may look mournful, but I express myself through them because I find joy and beauty in the objects’ history and decay/entropy.”
— Rya Hueston