Jaclyn Roessel of Phoenix's Heard Museum: 100 Creatives

Categories: 100 Creatives

Nanibaa Beck
Meet Jaclyn Roessel.
Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 42. Jaclyn Roessel.

It's hard to define Jaclyn Roessel's creative life with one word. But if she had to pick, she might choose "explorer."

"I am constantly exploring my existence as a modern asdzaan Diné (Navajo woman)," Jaclyn Roessel says. "And all I do whether as a blogger, museum professional, podcast host, greeting card [company] owner, philanthropist, photographer, or advocate is fueled by the power of my culture and the strength my family provides me."

See also: Mesa Designer Ashley Cooper: 100 Creatives

Jaclyn Roessel
Roessel is from Lukachukai, Arizona.
"I was born and raised on the Navajo Nation between the communities of Round Rock, Lukachukai, and Kayenta, Arizona," she says. "I spend my time giving to many causes focused on providing educational opportunities for underrepresented populations."

That focus takes Roessel, 30, in many directions. She works as Heard Museum's education and public programs director, but keeps plenty busy outside her nine-to-five.

The Phoenician owns Naaltsoos Project, which prints cards with Navajo greetings, produces with Jovanna Perez the podcast Schmooze, which features interviews with Arizona women about topics ranging from the arts to immigration, blogs at Grownup Navajo, and runs fashion blog Presence 4.0 with Chelsea Chee and Nanibaa Beck. Presence is in the midst of finalizing the details of an August event blending style, art, and fashion that will coincide with the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico and include a collaborative element with Rezonate Art and Beyond Buckskin Boutique. And recently Roessel joined the board of Arizona Humanities.

Roessel's leisure time is marked by coffee, writing, and spending time with her friends.

"The act of writing is something I have to do everyday whether it's for Grownup Navajo or simply in my journal, it usually occurs after work at Giant Coffee," Roessel says. "I relish time I get to spend with my 'lady loves' (women I admire) so my calendar is brimming with coffee, breakfast, or happy hour dates. I also try to leave plenty of time to play with my niece and nephew who I think are so entertaining."

I came to Phoenix with my mom in my packed Ford Contour a week before I started college at Arizona State. She was my partner helping me outfit my dorm room with swag from Target before my dad and siblings arrived. It was August 2001, I was fresh from the Navajo reservation ready to shake up the world.

I make art because it brings my "soulspeak" to life, there is no direct word for art in Navajo mostly because what is creative and artistic surrounds us. I use soulspeak as an ode to what resonates with us often without us fully knowing how. In a sense being creative is way to share what comes innate to us.

I'm most productive when I have a "five-point morning" filled with a morning run, tea, prayer, a bite for breakfast, and time spent connecting with my loves by phone or in person. I thrive off a good start to the day.

My inspiration wall is full of photos of Diné Bikeyáh (Navajoland) my playground in Northeastern Arizona, favorite quotes including, "Your life is an occasion, rise to it." And the Native American proverb, "You can't see the future with tears in your eyes."A copy of the book Women in Navajo Society written by my late grandmother Ruth Roessel, full of teachings of what being a Navajo woman entails. The lastest piece of snail mail I received, because who doesn't love getting letters?!

I've learned most from my late Nalís (paternal grandparents). Their life's work blazed many trails and created innovative changes in Indian education. But most importantly they taught me to always fight for two things: Ké' (family and kinship) and love. Their lovestory is my gold standard.

Good work should always question the world we live in.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more creative placemaking opportunities - places where we can come together and have critical conversations about our community and how to make it better.

Location Info


Heard Museum

2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Giant Coffee

1437 N. 1st St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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