MIS* Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a multi-award-winning Aniyunwiya queer interdisciplinary author and artist. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation born and raised in the colonized land of what is today often called Oregon, space, place, and ancestry inform much of her work.
Jessica is currently preparing to install “The Red C[h]airn Project” at the re-opening of the Ucross Art Gallery in early 2023, after debuting it during her post as the Native American visual artist-in-residence at Ucross in 2021. She is a GLEAN: Portland artist where her series “Strong FoundNations” brings attention to the history of the “Indian boarding schools” (of which her father survived). You can find this series currently on display at the Maddox Building. She is also a Jordan Schnitzer Foundation Black Lives Matter grant awardee. Her installation “Beguiled” is currently on display at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. As the current poet-in-residence at Hugo House, and a practitioner of tarot in her personal daily rituals, she is working on a manuscript, “[sp]RED,” that Indigenizes the tarot deck. [sp]RED is being illustrated by fellow Portlander Kendrick Payton and will be published by Red Planet Books.
Jessica integrates technology into many of her creative projects as a natural extension of her work as the founder of the SEO writing services company MehtaFor. One example of this tempering is “Red/Act,” a pop-up virtual reality poetry experience made with proprietary software and featuring family archival photos, an experimental form of poetry she created, and performance art. It aims to introduce a wider audience to poetry, and specifically Indigenous poetry, through a uniquely immersive encounter. Virtual galleries of her work transpired during COVID to allow for continued audience engagement. 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 first children’s picture book, “One of Kokum’s Kids,” received a 2022 publication prize fro Lee & Low Books and will be released in 2023. 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®), registered prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT®), certified Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP®), certified in Reiki I and II, and a 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.
*(Merciless Indian Savage), pronounced “meece,” as Natives are called in the Declaration of Independence