Debra Yepa-Pappan: Dual(ing) Identities

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Divine Spirits, 2012 © Courtesy of the artist and the Museum of Contemporay Native Arts
Debra Yepa-Pappan: Dual(ing) Identities
Curated by: Delana Joy Farley

108 Cathedral Place
Santa Fe, NM 87101
August 17th, 2012 - December 31st, 2012
Opening: August 17th, 2012 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

(505) 983-1666
Mon and Wed-Saturday, 10AM-5PM; Sun, 12-5PM; Closed on Tuesdays and major holidays


This exhibition focuses on Debra Yepa-Pappan’s reflective group of works that explore her dual identities. Yepa-Pappan is of Jemez Pueblo and Korean heritage and currently resides in the Windy City (Chicago). Through this multilayered collection of work, Yepa-Pappan layers instances of history, pop culture, stereotypes, authenticity, family, her identity, and the urban environment together. Through her dual identities, she embraces change in tradition as a reflection of herself, yet she also duels with the labels placed upon her.

About the artist: Debra Yepa-Pappan is a contemporary artist. Born in Korea in 1971 to a Korean mother and Jemez Pueblo father, she came to the U.S. with her mother when she was five months old. At this time, she was enrolled as Jemez Pueblo before becoming a U.S. citizen. At the age of one, her family moved to Chicago. Yepa-Pappan attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and graduated with an Associate’s of Fine Arts degree in two and three-dimensional art in 1992.

Her medium of choice is photography, although she doesn’t refer to herself as a photographer. She is currently utilizing digital imaging software to create, but her true passion remains rooted in B&W darkroom photography. Yepa-Pappan’s work is her story. She shares her experiences of being a mixed-race Asian/Native American living in an urban area, while exploring the issues of identity and challenging American Indian stereotypes. Having spent the majority of her life in Chicago, she is influenced by contemporary and urban culture, along with her deep connection to Jemez Pueblo. Because of my parents and their own strong ties to their cultures, she has a strong sense of self. She says, “I know who I am and where my people come from.”

Debra Yepa-Pappan currently lives in Chicago with her husband, artist, Chris Pappan and their amazing daughter, Ji Hae. She is a mom first, and artist second.

Guest Curator: Delana Joy Farley is an enrolled member of the Northern Navajo Nation, and is Hoganlani, born for Tziliani. Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Tse’ na ha bl ni, and my paternal grandfather’s clan is Ashiihi. Coming from a family of weavers, Farley decided to devote her higher education to the arts by working within the museum world. As alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum Studies Program, she has gone on to acquire her Master’s of Arts degree from New York University. She is currently Interim Curator of Collections at the Tohono O’odham Nations Cultural Center & Museum in Arizona.