Artist Raven Chacon (Diné) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and 2023 MacArthur Foundation Fellow. A performer and visual artist, he creates videos, prints, photographs, and installations that bring sonic experimentation into the gallery. In his artistic practice, Chacon invites collaboration among performers and audiences as well as objects and spaces, creating musical scores that connect Diné (Navajo) worldviews with Western classical and avant-garde music traditions.
Trained as a composer, Chacon often starts from musically notated scores to create conceptually rich artworks across creative categories. Since scores are inherently fluid, even when they take fixed form in a video or print, the works based on them retain the possibility for further interpretation, collaboration, and reanimation in new contexts.
In his print portfolio series For Zitkála-Šá, Chacon recognizes Zitkála-Šá (Yankton-Dakota, 1876-1938), an Indigenous and women's rights advocate and the first Native composer to use Western musical notation. The series of score-portraits celebrates contemporary Native woman musicians in his circle. Each striking graphic is accompanied by performance instructions, inviting all to imagine how they might activate this legacy. A selection of works from this portfolio of thirteen lithographs is currently on view in SAAM’s exhibition Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies.