Dakota Mace is a Diné (Navajo) artist and scholar that focuses on abstracting Diné weaving practices as well as developing more dialogue on the appropriation of Indigenous design-work. Mace received her MA and MFA degrees in Photography and Textile Design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her BFA in Photography from the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Her artistic work focuses on translating the language of Diné weaving history as well as beliefs through different mediums and techniques.
“Diné (Navajo) weaving is more than technique and craftsmanship; it is a connection to the Diné concept of Hozhó (balance) within nature. My work focuses on re-interpreting the symbolic abstractions of our creation stories, cosmologies, and social structures, using a combination of traditional and nontraditional materials. Na'ashjéii Asdzáá (Spider Woman), who taught the ways of weaving, is one of the most important deities to the Diné and is the most prevalent motif used in my work. She was the first to weave her web of the universe while spreading Hózhó Náhásdlíí’ (Beauty Way) teachings of balance within the mind, body, & soul. This narrative formulates an understanding of certain aspects of Diné Bahané (creation story) as well as bringing Na'ashjéii Asdzáá into the fine art world and providing my audience a window into the world of the Diné.”
She continues to look to other cultures as forms of inspiration while teaching others about the importance of cultural appropriation in relation to Native American design. She has developed numerous workshops and lectures that focus on the appropriation and influence of Indigenous design work within fashion and popular culture.
Her work as an artist and scholar has been exhibited nationally as well as internationally at various conferences and galleries. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Robin A. Douthitt Graduate Teaching Fellowship, Madison Magazine M List 2018 Awardee, 2019 Wisconsin Triennial Recipient, Summer Time Academic Research (STAR) Award, Alice Brown Memorial Scholarship, and the Kemper Knapp University Fellowship.