Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Debra Yepa-Pappan: Dual(ing) Identities

August 17 - December 31, 2012

Divine Spirits

Dual(ing) Identities


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. 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 was 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 5 months old. At this time, she was enrolled as Jemez Pueblo before becoming a U.S. citizen. In her work, Yepa-Pappan 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 her 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.” Yepa-Pappan attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and graduated with an Associates of Fine Arts in two- and three-dimensional art in 1992.

About the Curator: DELANA JOY FARLEY is from the Northern Navajo Nation. “I am Hoganlani, I am born for Tziliani, my maternal grandfather is Tse’ na ha bl ni, and my paternal grandfather 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 Masters of Arts from New York University and is currently Interim Curator of Collections at the Tohono O’odham Nations Cultural Center & Museum in Arizona.

Guest Essay by Delana Joy Farley

Read a news release about the exhibition.