Melanie Yazzie works a wide range of media that include printmaking, painting, sculpting, and ceramics, as well as installation art. Her art is accessible to the public on many levels, while being witty and colorful.
Her subject matter is significant because the serious undertones reference native post-colonial dilemmas. Her work often brings images of women from many indigenous cultures to the fore. Thus her work references matrilineal systems and points to the possibility of female leadership.
A recurring motif in Yazzie's work has been Blue Bird flour sacks, which provided clothing material during her childhood.
Yazzie has led several collaborative international projects, including ones with artists in Siberia, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and Germany. A recent portfolio, "Hello Kitty and Pocahontas" examined world artists analysis of the commercialization of ethnic identity.
In addition to teaching at the Institute of American Indian Arts, the College of Santa Fe (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design), Boise State University, and the University of Arizona, Yazzie taught at the Pont Aven School of Contemporary Art in France.
A selection of major exhibitions from the 1990s to present include “Between Two Worlds” (2008) at Arizona State University, "Traveling" at the Heard West Museum (2006), "About Face: Self-Portraits by Native American, First Nations, and Inuit Artists" at the Wheelwright Museum (2005), "Making Connections" (2002) in Bulova, Russia, "Navajo in Gisborne" (1999) in Gisborne, New Zealand and "Watchful Eyes" (1994) at the Heard Museum.
The artist is included in books by Zena Pearlstone (About Face), Lucy Lippard (The Lure of the Local) and Jackson Rushing (Native American Art in the Twentieth Century), and collected nationally and internationally in private and public collections.
On September 2013 she co-curated the exhibition "Heart Lines: Expressions of Native North American Art" in Colorado University Art Museum, partially based on her private collection and including her work "Pollen Girl".
- Bill, Amber. "Artist Bios." C.N. Gorman Museum (retrieved 17 Jan 09)
- "Holding the Truth: Reflections of a Navajo Artist" WGBH Forum Network. (Retrieved 17 Jan 09)