And we’re back! This week, we continue featuring artists from the wonderful ABQ Fundraiser held last year! Meet Tanaya Winder, an artist/writer/scholar/overall badass with a passion for helping others, especially women of color writers! Check her out below!
Third Woman Press Collective (TWPC): Hey there, Tanaya! Thanks for taking time out to chat with us! Let’s start with geographic location.
Tanaya Winder (TW): I always strongly dislike (I won’t say hate because hate is a strong word) when I get asked questions like “Where do you live?” or “where are you located?” Every now and then my Facebook will prompt me to answer those same questions and it always has me choosing between Boulder, CO and Albuquerque, NM. I suppose I dislike the question because I don’t really feel like I’m located solely in one area. One of my passions has me living and working out of CO where I serve as the Director of the Boulder Upward Bound Program at the University of Colorado and work with Native youth to encourage them to attend college.
Another passion of mine is teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico. I also have a position at the Institute of American Indian Arts which allows me to teach through the Native American Community Academy (NACA) and work with high school students. For those last two I live and work out of Albuquerque. You might wonder, “How does that work?” Well, I make it work. I used to fly back and forth every week. Sometimes twice a week. People often ask me “Where are you?” or “What are you doing?” and most of them say something to the extent of “I have no idea where you’re even at.” Haha. Half the time I have no idea where I’m at either. Lately, I’ve been traveling a lot for spoken word performances and public speaking engagements. Plus, family and home are always huge passions and major motivators for me so I try to go home (to the Southern Ute Reservation in southern Colorado) at least once a month if I can. So, I guess the answer to your question is: I’m everywhere. At least I try to be. As a woman of color I definitely don’t like being placed in a box…why should geographic location be any different? I guess one way to say it is: I always exist in the drift. I float between places and spaces and discover myself in the wander.
TWPC: That is such an interesting perspective on situating yourself geographically. We’re happy you’re finding such freedom in the spaces all around you, and it sounds like you are part of some amazing programs. Awesome! How do you define your feminism?
TW: Existing outside of expectations. As a woman of color, so many people have ideas about who you should be, and what you should do and deem important. I define my feminism as doing what makes me happy, feel full, and exist in a space that allows my light to shine. Sometimes this means creating my own space to exist in.
TWPC: Beautifully said –and something that we can see you follow wholeheartedly with your constant movement! Feminism is very much a creative process with the hopes of creating better worlds for the future. What keeps you busy?
TW: Oh, goodness…. trying to change the world keeps me busy. Living a life of giving keeps me busy. I hope that doesn’t come off as cocky or too full of myself but I truly believe each and every one of us is capable of making this world a better and beautiful place. Of course whenever you try to do that, you’ll always come against resistance and people who don’t believe you can. Continuing to do what you do by pursuing the passions and love that has been placed in your heart is always hard (but rewarding) work. I’m all about serving others whether that means running a literary magazine I co-founded As/Us: A Space for Women of the World or my Upward Bound program or teaching. Those three things alone add enough on my plate to keep it more than full, but I’m also a working artist. I’m always writing, revising, performing, or doing some combination of those three. Somewhere in between all that, I make time to eat (cook when I’m lucky) and put in some time running or working out.
TWPC: Giving to others sounds like a wonderful way to want to spend your time, we need more people like that. Kudos to you! We’re stoked to hear about all the awesome things you are contributing to. Speaking of, what influenced your decision to help fundraise for Third Woman Press?
TW: Like I said, one of my passions is teaching at UNM. During my 1st semester teaching in Chican@ Studies, I was blessed to be able to co-teach with Myrriah Gomez (love her!). She is such a passionate and inspiring person. I learned a lot from working with her and sharing a classroom space. She definitely helped me be a better teacher and educator. So when she asked if I wanted to help with the fundraiser, of course I said yes!
The other part of my answer to that question is that as a writer and editor of a magazine dedicated to women of color I believe in the mission and vision of TWP. During my senior year at Stanford I was lucky enough to be able to take an artist’s course with Cherríe Moraga. She has since become one of my mentors and a person I really admire and look up to. Cherríe’s Loving in the War Years continues to be one of the books I turn to for inspiration as well as This Bridge Called My Back. Third Woman Press contributes to the thread of voices that need to be shared with the world.
TWPC: We have heard such wonderful things about Myrriah Gomez and we are continually full of thanks to have had someone so passionate help organize for us! We are happy that you and the five other artists were able to showcase your words and art for something we all feel such passion for: the representation of women of color writers in published works. What was your favorite detail, performance, interaction, etc., from the fundraiser you participated in?
TW: The fundraiser was great. The space that was created that night was full of energy; having everyone united for a common cause using art as expression was amazing. The organizers pulled together some truly wonderful feminist artists to share their work and speak truth. I think what I enjoyed most about it was just the coming together of everyone, the speakers, the poets, the supporters, and audience – was magic. It’s magic when people support each other, vibe with each other, and want to see each other’s dreams and endeavors succeed.
TWPC: Sounds like a dream! We’re so happy that it was such a great experience for everyone. The fact that it helped TWP is just an added bonus, one we are very grateful for! What tips do you have for emerging feminist artists?
TW: Stay true to who you are. Don’t compromise. Most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. In any line of work, and unfortunately this happens more than you’d realize, there are more and more lateral gatekeepers who try to be the “go-to” person in their field, genre, or area. Avoid becoming one of those people. Share any and every opportunity you can. I think the only way to truly become a successful artist is to remember it’s never solely about you. It’s about honoring the space created by those who came before you and it’s about those who will come after you, so make sure you leave the space in a better place than when you found it. Lift someone up with you. Most of all, remember you are always emerging.
As artists we are continually growing, changing, and adapting. If you aren’t…well you’re not being true to your art and pushing yourself into new places. And most of all, don’t be afraid to write your truths. Like Cherríe Moraga said in Loving in the War Years “The writing always knows better than you where it’s going if you let it.” I’m probably not quoting that correctly but that is how I remember it and the mind remembers what it needs to.
TWPC: Great advice, Tanaya. It is so important to stay true to yourself and your values, no matter what. Especially as artists, because your art should be an expression of who you are and what you stand for. Is there any specific area, field, or place that you feel really needs a feminist intervention right now?
TW: The literary world always needs feminist intervention. Our herstories are continually left out of a lot of discussions and major magazines don’t often publish our raw and real stories. This is why the revitalization of TWP is so important. I believe in us carving out our own spaces in the world to write our stories. I’m tired of other people trying to write them for us. My good friend Casandra Lopez and I even started our own literary journal As/Us: A Space for Women of the World to publish Indigenous women’s and women of color’s writing. We’ve been doing since 2012 and already have had 5 issues. Our most recent issue was based on the theme of Decolonial Love. We publish online and in print because we want to be about access. The online version has been viewed in 143 countries around the world and counting. We absolutely believe in supporting other magazines, anthologies, and presses who are about decolonizing the mainstream literary space.
TWPC: Awesome! We love that. As/Us sounds like a great way of uniting and amplifying the voices of Indigenous women and women of color—something we are all about. What do you like to do for fun?
TW: Fun to me is having time. A day where I can sleep in, go for a long run, get in a good workout, have time to cook, write, and read a good book. I like to sing while making breakfast and wrap myself in a blanket while I drink hot tea and plan the revolution with fellow world changers and community builders. Fun is hanging out with fellow dreamers and figuring out ways to make those dreams become realities. Fun is Thursday nights with friends watching “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” while enjoying home-cooked food. Fun is karaoke nights where I can sing my heart out.
TWPC: “Planning the revolution,” Tanaya, you’re one badass womyn. As busy as you are, we’re glad you find such good times with loved ones and in solitude. Since you helped TWP raise money, what is one thing that excited you about the revitalization or what would you like to see TWP do overall?
TW: I’d LOVE to see TWP combine forces with other WoC journals to put on a big multiracial women’s writer conference. I think it would be so powerful for us all to come together to support each other, share our words, and feed each other’s spirits.
TWPC: Sounds like you’re on to something huge, Tanaya. We’ll keep As/Us in mind. We’d love to see that happen, too!
Many thanks to Tanaya and her contribution to the revitalization of Third Woman Press! To check up on her recent happenings, visit her blog! Stay tuned for more Feminist Fistbumps!