Written by Carlos Contreras
“REZARTX found me during its inaugural year when I was asked to curate the Poetry EXPRESSION section,” said Tanaya Winder when asked about the upcoming event at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on June 8th.
RezArtX now in its third year, is serving as a national stage and gathering space for a multitude of Indigenous artists representing various forms of performative arts come June. Warren Montoya one of the lead coordinators of the efforts, has been working with artists like Winder for three years now, because he recognizes the value in such a showcase.
Winder will be one of many folks who will share a gift of art with us while in town. We asked her about being an artist – and what it meant to her. “My favorite part about being an artist is the lens through which I am able to view the world; you witness and meet so many wonderful places and people, then see the way everything and everyone is connected. I love bearing witness to that magic,” she said. Magical is one way we can attest to being able to describe the poetry Winder claims as one of her artistic practices. Speaking of practice, we sort of asked about that in asking what Winder’s least favorite thing about being an artist is, and practice, wasn’t her answer – instead, it was just the opposite.
“My least favorite part is not having enough time to create, write, practice, and sing all the ideas that constantly come to me,” the prolific artist shared. She’s been sharing her passion and talents on stages all over the world for years now. With that has come quite a bit of success.
Of these things, she modestly said, “I’d say my biggest successes cannot be defined by books sold or poems read or songs written and sang or even dope venues I’ve performed in, but rather my biggest success was learning I define what success means to me. For me, success isn’t any kind of accomplishment; success is waking up each day to practice all the types of heartwork that honors my gifts and makes me feel alive and connected to Creator.”
Pretty awesome, right? Especially for someone who followed that up with, “I just wrapped up a 2 month tour in 10 states and 14 cities that ended with a film crew from the Gates Foundation documenting the last leg of the tour for a video they’re doing to highlight scholars.” If that statement alone doesn’t make you eager to see her – we aren’t sure WHAT will. You can see her on June 8th at the NHCC – when you do, you’ll HEAR here. Along with being a wordsmith, Tanaya sings!
“I’m working on my first acoustic singer/songwriter EP featuring my original songs on guitar. It’ll be produced by Frank Waln. I cannot wait for the world to hear what I’ve been working on,” said Winder. This wonder of a woman isn’t just building her own career – she is leading the charge of a number of creative Indigenous artists dubbed the Dream Warriors.
“This fall my Dream Warriors artist fam (Lyla June, Frank Waln, Tall Paul, Mic Jordan, and yours truly) will be doing a “Heal It’ tour together where we visit residential/boarding schools to teach empowerment workshops and perform for the schools and community. I’m super excited for it! We even found a sponsor to purchase enough of our Dream Warriors EP for every student in the South Dakota schools we’ll visit. It’s going to be beautiful and it’s only the beginning,” noted Winder. We hope to keep tabs on that tour and have an update for those you reading this – when that wraps.
To wrap things up we asked WInder to share some words of encouragement and advice for any and all other artists out there. To that request, she offered this.
“I’d say if you’re starting out by looking to increase your reach, you’ve already started down the wrong path and it’ll never happen in a good way. It should always be about honoring the work and your gifts (both of these are a constant, daily practice). If you’re out for increasing your “likes” or “follows,” you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Just do you and do you with heart, honesty, kindness, and integrity. Never forget who you are, where you come from, and why you’re doing what you do…. And if you stay true to that course, you’ll get to where you’re meant to be.”
Find Winder on Twitter and IG at @tanayawinder