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Elysia Escobedo’s Art Installed at the Office of Dyron Murphy Architects

Feb 8, 2024

Elysia Escobedo (Kha’P’O Owingeh, Cochiti, and Hopi)

On January 30, Dyron Murphy Architects (DMA) held an award ceremony at their offices for Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Cinematic Arts and Technology second-year student Elysia Escobedo (Kha’P’O Owingeh, Cochiti, and Hopi). Escobedo won DMA’s art competition to “reflect Native American culture, IAIA branding or campus elements and Dyron Murphy Architects (DMA) branding” with her preliminary acrylic painting You Can Start Here. DMA is the architectural planning and design firm behind many of the buildings on the IAIA campus, including the Lloyd Kiva New Welcome Center, the Performing Arts and Fitness Center, IAIA Student Housing, the Center for Lifelong Education, and the IAIA Research Center for Contemporary Native Arts (RCCNA). Escobedo created You Can Start Here at 4’ x 8’ with supplies provided by DMA and was awarded a $1,000 check at the ceremony. The final painting is now displayed at the DMA offices in Albuquerque, NM.

“I’ve been painting since, like, five years old,” Escobedo shared at the event. “My dad was the one that taught me, and growing up as a kid, I was really quiet. And so, art was the medium of choice for me to communicate to others and relate to people … I can’t imagine my life without doing it.” Escobedo titled her winning piece You Can Start Here because, as she said, “…IAIA was a big start for me. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I was pursuing art. I just kind of want other people to know that—who are kind of up in the air—that this is a place to go to, to discover yourself and develop any kind of artistic ability—that pretty much everybody has.”

Escobedo rendered a magical sky in the upper half of You Can Start Here with a blend of purples, blues, yellows, and greens depicting a variety of cloud formations and rain. She simultaneously represented night and day with a sun-moon surrounded by fanciful rays in a star-like formation. Below the sky, Escobedo painted a repeat of the abstracted mountains of the DMA logo. At the intersection of these mountains, a giant red hand touches down on the grass in the Dance Circle. The entire scene is set looking out from the landing of the Cinematic Arts and Technology classrooms, and the staired pathway extends from the bottom of the canvas toward the central hand. On the left is the Library and Technology building, and on the right is the Academic Building. The landscape is filled with lush, detailed depictions of plant and tree life.

“Any time you create, it’s a sacred thing, as you know,” Murphy said to Escobedo. “And whether it’s through art, or what we do in architecture, what our profession is, it’s an undertaking that inspires, or it affects people wherever you go.”

You Can Start Here acrylic painting by Elysia Escobedo (Kha’P’O Owingeh, Cochiti, and Hopi)

About the Painting You Can Start Here

This location is significant for Escobedo. “Any time that I feel super burned out and I forget why you come to IAIA, I usually go to the Dance Circle and just kind of sit there and really take in the view and the whole energy of it,” she shared. “It seems like with a bunch of creatives, there’s a big collection of consciousness there. I wanted to capture that in this big being and kind of placing this hand here, like, ‘You could start here. This is what you’re here for.’ I just overall wanted to capture the greenery of the place because that’s not something I’m used to back home—it’s this desert—so I really appreciate the landscape there [in the Dance Circle], and it really helps ground me. And it reminds me why I came here. So yeah, I wanted to just bring in that feeling to this with all the colors, and variety, and like endless opportunity, because that’s what IAIA means for me.”

“In acrylic paint, I have captured the vividness of IAIA’s sunset view in the painted piece You Can Start Here. The colorfulness and ambiguous figure represent the ambition of all Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) members. The opportunity to become who you believe starts when you touch campus. You Can Start Here is a piece centered around gratitude, beginnings, and empowerment.” —Elysia Escobedo (Kha’P’O Owingeh, Cochiti, and Hopi), Artist Statement

Quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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