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Marlena Myles

Tribal Affiliation: Spirit Lake Dakota

Born: 1988

Known for: Digital artist, animator, fabric/fashion designer, and book illustrator.

“The common misconception with Native art is that it’s traditional — it’s stuck in the past. But the truth is that Native people have always been innovative. So, to use Illustrator is just a continuation of what my ancestors already did.” — Marlena Myles

Marlena Myles is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota tribe. She began her art journey as a traditional artist mostly doing graphite portraits, but after seeing the creative uses of digital vectors, she was inspired to modernize her methods and now is constantly finding new methods to expand the idea of where Native American art can be displayed.

She is a self-taught artist who is gaining recognition in the region. Her professional work includes public art, children’s books, augmented reality, murals, fabrics, and animations.  She has shown her work in galleries across the country including the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Museum of Russian Art, the Red Cloud Heritage Center, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center.

In 2021, she opened her own Dakota publishing company called Wiyouŋkihipi (We Are Capable) Productions to create a platform that educates and honors the culture, language, and history of the Dakota people.