Shayleena Britton

Shayleena Britton – Using Art to show the importance of Food

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarter Creative Shayleena Britton (Round Valley Indian Tribes) of Covelo, California, may have a bachelor’s degree in 3D animation, “but my favorite medium is acrylic paints.”

“Painting has always been an escape for me whether I was bored or just needed a break from my studies,” she had told us in her Dreamstarter Creative grant application. “I always found painting as a way to keep me relaxed and calm. With painting and art itself, I love that you can always learn more. I have been painting for years yet I always find myself finding new techniques or improving.”

With her $2,100 Dreamstarter Creative grant, she was able to stock up on canvases, paints and brushes, as well as a camera “so I can take real photos of my ideas and put them together in Photoshop to come up with my concept art for my paintings.”

“For my project, I wanted to show the importance and appreciation for the food around my valley,” said Shayleena. “I wanted to do three paintings, one for the fish in the rivers, one for the plants in our valley, and one for the acorns in our trees.”

Shayleena considers her Dreamstarter Creative project, which included sharing her art and educating her tribal community to be a success in that she accomplished what she had set out to do.

“My community also knows the importance of all the things our valley provides, and by showing it in an art form it helps people appreciate it more.

“My project and spreading the word about what I’ve been doing brings creativity back to our community,” she said. “I have been seeing a lot more people being inspired and wanting to create art.”

She also commented that her Dreamstarter Creative project brought out her own creativity in herself.

“It keeps me busy and keeps my mind clear by knowing my painting has good energy because of what it is representing.”

Shayleena noted that art has always been an integral part of her Native community where many are beaders, weavers or musicians and that incorporating art around the importance of traditional foods “is a way to connect with our ancestors and elders who passed down their knowledge to the next generation.”

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