Raven Chacon

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Raven Chacon
Born1977 (age 45–46)
Fort Defiance, Arizona, United States
EducationCalifornia Institute of the Arts University of New Mexico
Known forsound art, non-vocal instrumentalist, installation art,composer, musician, visual artist
Stylenoise music, experimental sound, composer, musician, visual artist
AwardsPulitzer Prize

Raven Chacon (born 1977) is a Diné-American composer, musician and artist. Born in Fort Defiance, Arizona within the Navajo Nation, Chacon became the first Native American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his Voiceless Mass in 2022.

He has also been a solo performer of noise music and worked with groups such as Postcommodity.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Still Life #3, detail of sound installation at the National Museum of the American Indian

Raven Chacon was born in 1977 in Fort Defiance, Arizona, US within the Navajo Nation.[2] He attended the University of New Mexico, where he obtained his BA in Fine Arts in 2001, then received an MFA in music composition from the California Institute of the Arts.[3] He was a student of James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith.

Chacon's visual and sonic artwork has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad.[4] His room-sized sound and text installation, Still Life, #3 (2015), was exhibited in the Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian, New York.[5][6] His collective and solo work has been presented at Sydney Biennale,[7] Kennedy Center, the Whitney Biennial,[8] documenta 14,[9] Adelaide International, Vancouver Art Gallery, ASU Art Museum, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival,[10] the Heard Museum,[11] Chaco Canyon, and Performance Today.[12]

Chacon also performs in the groups KILT with Bob Bellerue, Mesa Ritual with William Fowler Collins, Endlings with John Dieterich, and collaborations with Laura Ortman. In 2016, he was commissioned by Kronos Quartet to compose a work for their Fifty For The Future project.[13]

Chacon serves as Composer-in-Residence with the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project.[14] In 2012, he was awarded a Creative Capital[15] Visual Arts grant. In 2014, he was honored with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship in Music.[16] In 2018, Chacon was awarded the Berlin Prize by the American Academy in Berlin.[17]

In 2022, Chacon became the first Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, which he received for his composition Voiceless Mass.[18]


Postcommodity (Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist), 2015 at the Walker Art Center

Chacon was a member of the Native American art collective, Postcommodity, with whom he has developed multimedia installations which have been exhibited internationally.[8] Other members include Cristóbal Martínez, Kade L. Twist, Steven Yazzie and Nathan Young.[8] In 2017, as part of Postcommodity, Chacon created the multimedia project, ...in memoriam, in Edmonton in 2017, curated by Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Chacon lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is married to Candice Hopkins, a Tagish curator. His sister Nani Chacon is a muralist.

Awards and honors[edit]

Chacon has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Music, an American Academy in Berlin Prize (music composition), a Creative Capital award (visual arts), a United States Artists fellowship (music), a Joan Mitchell Foundation fellowship,[17] a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship,[20] among others.[4] Chacon received the inaugural Mellon Foundation Artist-in-Residence fellowship for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.[21]

Partial discography[edit]

  • Horse Notations (Cimiotti Recordings, 2020)
  • Crisalide Fossile (w/ OvO) (Bronson, 2016)
  • Your New Age Dream Contains More Blood Than You Can Imagine 12"LP (w/ Postcommodity) (Anarchymoon, 2011)
  • Kitchen Sorcery (w/ Bob Bellerue) (Prison Tatt Records, 2011)
  • At the Point Where the Rivers Crossed, We Drew Our Knives 12"LP (Anarchymoon, 2010)
  • Black Streaked Hum (Lightning Speak/Featherspines, 2009)
  • Overheard Songs (Innova, 2006)
  • The Incredible 17000 km Split (split w/ Torturing Nurse) (8K Mob, 2006)
  • Jesus Was a Wino (w/ Jeff Gburek) (Herbal Records, 2005)
  • Still/life (Sicksicksick, 2004)
  • Meet the Beatless (Sicksicksick, 2003)


  1. ^ Porter, Clayton (August 2016). "Studio Visit: Raven Chacon". Southwest Contemporary. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  2. ^ "Raven Chacon". Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Retrieved November 28, 2022.
  3. ^ "Raven Chacon Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, AZ". Creative Capital. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Still Life No. 3: Raven Chacon". Heard Museum. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  5. ^ "Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound". Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  6. ^ Ash-Milby, Kathleen (Fall 2017). "Art that Moves". American Indian. 18 (3). Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  7. ^ "Top 5 Videos Celebrating the 2012 Sydney Biennale | BLOUIN ARTINFO". Archived from the original on March 18, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "Postcommodity". Princeton University Art Museum. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  9. ^ "Postcommodity". documenta 14. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  10. ^ "Raven Chacon". San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  11. ^ Timble, Lynn (June 26, 2019). "Raven Chacon Returns to Phoenix, Explores Navajo Creation Story at the Heard". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  12. ^ "Performance Today". Archived from the original on July 5, 2010.
  13. ^ "Kronos Quartet". Archived from the original on February 4, 2016.
  14. ^ Wein, Gail (April 8, 2009). "Native American Composers". newmusicusa.org. NewMusicBox. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  15. ^ "Creative Capital". Archived from the original on January 15, 2012.
  16. ^ "Raven Chacon | Native Arts and Cultures Foundation". Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2014. Raven Chacon (Navajo) 2014 NACF Music Fellow
  17. ^ a b "Raven Chacon: INGA MAREN OTTO FELLOW IN MUSIC COMPOSITION - CLASS OF SPRING 2018". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  18. ^ Huizenga, Tom (May 10, 2022). "Meet Raven Chacon, the first Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize for music". NPR.
  19. ^ Postcommodity, Alex Waterman and Ociciwan: “in memoriam…”. uh books. 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2018
  20. ^ "Raven Chacon". Native Arts and Culture Foundation. November 7, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  21. ^ "Raven Chacon, Lightning Speak". Colorado College. Retrieved October 2, 2020.

External links[edit]