Social Justice Panel

Jaclyn Roessel | 50 Questions interview

Artists from various fields choose questions to answer from a list of 50.


How has your years in artmaking affected or influenced your sense of self? 

I recently began to call myself an artist. I didn’t see my creative needs as something that has was solely artistic until I started to be brave and read my poetry. The practice declaring myself as an artist influences my sense of self and has provided me a type of courage I didn’t find anywhere else in my life. In multiple ways it has helped me to stand in my power, naked without the cover other attachments. So through my art I have found a freedom from what pains me, wounds I have yet to heal. But it is also a part of me which allows me a type of energy to dive into the work of trying to reach those hurts.

What is your artistic relationship to loss? Either personal loss, or lost works of art, or other kinds of loss? 

I owe loss so much. Monumental shifts in my life have created periods of great sharing of my poetic voice. In death, heartbreak, shedding of old selves, I have learned so much about my practice and being. Loss of poems I write also helps me to embrace the ephemeral. I am such a big “keeper”. I love saving cards, tchotchkes, so when I lose something physical, it helps me to recognize not everything can be contained, preserved or held forever. Everything has an energy and life cycle of its own.

Are you more interested in the universal or the individual? How important is it to you whether you express yourself as a unique person, or rather add your voice to a collective conversation? 

I love illustrating through my work how our personal experiences connect us to each other. In Diné culture we speak of K’é. This is a dynamic philosophy of kinship. We recognize in being related to each other, we are responsible to each other. I find there is tremendous power when we wield our voices and perspectives authentically because it allows others to see their connections. In short I believe even the separate is connected.

What role does your genetic or cultural background play in your practice? 

My culture and being as an asdzaan Diné (Navajo woman) is everything to me. I believe it is my greatest gift and something I share with others through my art because I believe it was never meant for me to hold apart from my community. I incorporate it into my art and my work as an arts producer and creative entrepreneur.

Happy Jac

About Jaclyn Roessel

Jaclyn Roessel was born and raised on the Navajo Nation, between the communities of Kayenta, Round Rock and Lukachukai, Arizona. She holds a B.A. in Art History and a Master in Public Administration from Arizona State University. She was the inaugural recipient of the Arizona Humanities Rising Star Award in 2013, which is given to young professionals whose work elevates the importance of humanities in the community. She’s been named one of Phoenix 100 Creatives You Should Know.  She is a writer/poet and co-founded the project Schmooze: Lady Connected a platform dedicated to sharing women’s stories in the southwest through multi-media streams. Over the past decade as a museum professional at the Heard Museum, Roessel confirmed her belief in the power of utilizing cultural learning as a tool to engage and build stronger Native communities. She recently shifted her focus to pursuing her entrepreneurial role as the founder of the blog and online community, Grownup Navajo. From her new home base in New Mexico, she aims to expand her work to further inspire Native people to use their traditional knowledge as a catalyst to create change in our communities today.


Curious about the #FiftyQuestions the artists had to chose from? Here they are!



1- What event or factor in your life has been the most pivotal in your decision to become an artist?

2- What artist do you consider most influential to your ongoing development as an artist?

3- What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced that you overcame to continue your art practice?

4- Describe your ideal workspace.

5- What one sentence do you hope describes how your art practice will be recorded in history, and why?

6- In thinking of the lulls and gaps or lost places in your practice over the years, who or what has re-energized you?

7- What project of yours do you personally consider your most satisfying, and why – regardless of external support or accolades?

8- What are habitual internal fears and bogeymen that come up for you around making art – excluding universal concerns of time, space, money, in/adequacy, and recognition?

9- Who of all the artists who have ever lived would you most love to share your work with? And why?

10- If you could travel in time, within what era or milieu would you most like to have an artist residency? And why?

11- What is you current guiding motivation to work and/or express yourself?

12- Who or what would you most like to collaborate with?

13- Do you have a relationship with the distant future – in other words, are you making artwork that bears a message or impact for coming generations?

14- What role does your genetic or cultural background play in your practice?

15- What surprises you most about what you are doing right now in your practice? If the nine year old you could see you right now, what do you think s/he would think?

16- What do you worry you will never be able to express?

17- What emotion as an artist makes you most uncomfortable and why

18- Can you recall your first memory of bliss in self-expression?

19- Who has been your greatest mentor, living or dead, real or imaginary?

20- Do you have a relationship with an animal in your life that influences your art process?

21- What unchangeable fact has been most frustrating to you as an artist?

22- How deeply do you feel your self-expression is impacted by the field in which you work – its morés, standards, culture, legacies – and how so?

23- How would you describe your ideal relationship with other artist colleagues?

24- What do you feel are the greatest or most tenacious barriers to creating art over an entire lifetime?

25- Do your dark nights of the soul tend to be constructive or destructive to your self-expression?

26- Is destruction a positive phenomenon for you?

27- What is your artistic relationship to loss? Either personal loss, or lost works of art, or other kinds of loss?

28- When does Joy tend to visit you?

29- Who or what are you speaking to or with in your current work? Who or what would you like to speak with in your art in future?

30- If you have one goal for change in your artistic field, what would it be?

31- If you could amplify a specific sense, which would it be? If you could minimize s specific sense, which would you choose?

32- How has your years in artmaking affected or influenced your sense of self?

33- What do you suspect is your most powerful artistic blessing? Or blessing in general?

34- Have you ever had a physical illness, event, or impediment that has changed how you make or approach artmaking? And how?

35- If you could create a new public institution for your field, what would it’s mission be?

36- Who or what do you feel is most invisible to others in your practice?

37- How do you feel most often misunderstood or misperceived, either as an artist or in your work itself?

38- How important is it to you that others connect and understand and appreciate your work?

39- What is your relationship to criticism?

40- What is your relationship to praise?

41- Is there a seasonal rhythm to your practice? How so and why?

42- How would you describe the prevailing norms in your field – are you impacted by them? How or how not?

43- What is your relationship to your audience, real or imaginary?

44- What makes you most likely to shut down or go into dormancy as an artist?

45- Do you have a particular skill or knack of which you are most secretly proud? Something you feel you can do that few others can, no matter how small?

46- Which would you prefer: to be a rogue artistic outsider or to fit within a community of similarly-minded creators?

47- Describe the greatest gift someone has given to you that invigorated your artistic expression?

48- Are you more interested in the universal or the individual? How important is it to you whether you express yourself as a unique person, or rather add your voice to a collective conversation?

49- If you could be anything besides an artist in human form, what would you like to be?

50- What would be the most thrilling  moment or situation in timespace to find your art being enjoyed?