Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is Aniyuwiya, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and an interdisciplinary artist and poet, and author of several books. Place, space, and personal ancestry inform much of her work. She is also the owner of an award-winning small business. MehtaFor is a writing services company that offers pro bono services to Native Americans and Native led/serving non-profits.
Jessica integrates technology, family archival photos, and performance art into many of her projects. “Red/Act” is a pop-up virtual reality poetry experience made with proprietary software. It aims to introduce a wider audience to poetry, and specifically indigenous poetry, through a uniquely immersive encounter. Her “emBODY poetry” performance series features experimental poetry on nude form while incorporating shibari rope work to address topics on body image and eating disorders in under-represented communities. “Beguiled” is an upcoming public art installation commissioned by Artist Trust that visualizes the ties between original sin, poetics, and anorexia nervosa.
Her collection Selected Poems: 2000 – 2020 was awarded the 2020 Birdy Prize from Meadowlark books, and her poetry collection Savagery received gold from the 2020 Book Excellence Awards and Reader View Literary Awards. Jessica’s novel The Wrong Kind of Indian won gold at the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) and at the American Book Fest Best Book. Jessica has also received numerous fellowships in recent years, including the Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship at the Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington and the Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship at The British Library in London. Jessica is a popular speaker and panelist, featured recently at events such as the US State Department’s National Poetry Month event, “Poets as Cultural Emissaries: A Conversation with Women Writers,” as well as the “Women’s Transatlantic Prison Activism Since 1960” symposium at Oxford University.
She has undertaken poetry residencies around the globe including at Hosking Houses Trust with an appointment at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and at the Crazy Horse Memorial and museum in South Dakota. Her work has been featured at galleries and exhibitions around the world, including IA&A Hillyer in Washington DC, The Emergency Gallery in Sweden, and Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico.
Jessica is also an experienced registered yoga instructor (ERYT-500®), registered children’s yoga teacher (RCYT®), certified Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP®), and NASM-certified personal trainer (CPT). She’s the founder of Mehtananda, a movement that offers free classes to groups that don’t have access to traditional yoga studios and/or don’t feel comfortable in such environments while exploring yoga through a de-colonized approach.