Twin Cities artist Marlena Myles has been awarded two grants. In May, she won a $50,000 Knight Foundation Arts + Tech Fellowship, and on Tuesday she nabbed a $75,000 Joyce Award to develop a new community project at Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer.
"I'm pretty excited to have funding that will take place over the next year, and to have something to work on," Myles said. "As an artist it's hard to make big future plans because you never know who is going to be funding what you're doing."
The soft-spoken artist admitted that it's been "hard to keep the news of both awards quiet!"
She'll use the $50,000 Knight Foundation grant to help her with her work during the next few years. The Joyce Award will be used to create an augmented reality installation bringing in regional Dakota community members to help tell their stories.
"People don't really think of Native art and technology like augmented reality, so it's nice to have support for doing something pretty new and for our culture and storytelling, and have it be supported, like people actually uplifting it," said Myles, who is Spirit Lake Dakota and based in St. Paul.
Locally, Myles is best known for her Dakota land maps of the region and the augmented reality project Dakota Spirit Walk at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
Last year, she worked with Ginger Porcella, then-executive director of Franconia Sculpture Park, on the first 4Ground Midwest Land Art Biennial, which took place across the Upper Midwest over two months and in collaboration with arts, environmental and tribal organizations.
In 2021, she had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Russian Art, in which she explored relationships between Russians and Alaskan Natives before the territory was sold to the United States in 1867. She also was part of the Great Northern Festival that same year, presenting a digital animation inspired by nature and her Dakota heritage titled "Innerworld Prism."
Most recently, she created a design for a metro transit bus honoring Dakota land that riders might catch around town or going to the Mall of America.
"I didn't think I would ever win awards like this. I think it also can be inspiring for other Dakota people, Dakota youth, to see someone being recognized," she said. "For a long time we have been erased or our voices aren't seen, so these projects help people see the world through our eyes."