Nostalgia hits DeAnna Autumn Leaf Suazo when it’s time for Santa Fe Indian Market.
Growing up on Taos Pueblo, she would accompany her parents to the various markets around the region, where they both sold their art.
“Seeing them make their career out of their passion – that’s what makes me proud of them,” she says.
It’s no wonder that the artistic gene found Suazo, who has become an artist in her own right.
“At first, they were hesitant when I told them I wanted to be an artist,” she says. “I pushed my way to it. My art is being recognized with my voice now. It’s been an amazing journey for me.”
She will be participating in the annual market in Santa Fe this weekend.
The market – which is in its 98th year and run by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts – will take place on the Santa Fe Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug. 18.
Although her parents painted with acrylic on canvas or pastel on acid-free paper, Suazo uses a different medium.
She uses Prismacolor watercolor marker on vintage paper.
“It’s music paper or ledger paper from the early 19th century,” she says. “I mainly go paper hunting at flea markets or antique malls. Or my dad hands it down to me. Sometimes previous buyers will send me some of the vintage paper.”
At the markets, Suazo can be found working inside her booth.
What catches people’s attention is her style.
“I incorporate the female voice, the Native American female voice,” she says. “I love anime. I loved ‘Sailor Moon’ growing up, and I try to resemble my women through the hair. They have Navajo buns, and sometimes I wish my hair looked like theirs.”
In addition to the anime style, Suazo also tries to pay homage to nature.
“The natural elements are in each piece,” she says. “It’s a part of my life. My Navajo side, we say ‘sheep is life.’ Without sheep, we wouldn’t have food or clothing. Then there’s my pueblo side. The wildlife there, the deer, elk, butterflies, dragonflies and mountains. It all coexists together.”
Suazo has known of her artistic ability since she was in elementary school.
That’s why she’s continued to study it.
She’s currently a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where her concentration is on studio arts, with an emphasis in painting and drawing.
At IAIA, she’s dabbled with sculpture and finds that she enjoys the process, although drawing and painting remain at the forefront. She’d also like to pursue opportunities to create murals around New Mexico.
“Right now, I’m trying to focus on the art – finding a voice that means a lot to me, making sure that it inspires other indigenous women,” she says. “I want to be that voice that pushes each woman to find something they are passionate about and pursue it. A lot of us have to make ends meet, and it gets difficult. We can lose our way. But if the passion remains in us, we can push through and do what we love.”