Senior Showcases Her Art and Celebrates Native Culture

Mia+Beverly%2C+FCRH+%E2%80%9920%2C+works+to+keep+her+Native+American+culture+alive.+%28Courtesy+of+Mia+Beverly+for+the+Fordham+Ram%29

Mia Beverly, FCRH ’20, works to keep her Native American culture alive. (Courtesy of Mia Beverly for the Fordham Ram)

Hannah Gonzalez, Managing Editor

In the Painted Leaves Studio in Annapolis, Maryland, visitors can admire the intricate pieces which make up “Zentangling: Art, Dreams, and Mind.” This gallery showcases the work of Mia Beverly, FCRH ’20. But there is more to her work than what meets the eye.

The sense of wonder which permeates Beverly’s hand-drawn pieces expresses itself in detailed patterns as well as in images of faces, flowers, and animals and her art is never separate from her identity as a Native American.

“With my artwork, I tend to focus on nature a lot, and that’s definitely part of my identity and spirituality as an indigenous woman,” said Beverly.

Beverly combines pointillism, realism and Zentangling into her work. Since high school, when her mother purchased her a book on Zentangling, this art form has become one of her primary modes of expression.

“Zentangling is the term for the type of art that I use, which is basically fancy doodles-meets-Zen meditation,” said Beverly. “I started doing it because I wanted to destress, and, eventually, I got better at it. Then I started incorporating it into my actual artwork.”

These complex, repetitive designs can take Beverly anywhere from five minutes to three weeks to complete. During the summer, she produced 15 paintings within three months, hunching over her work every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After surveying the pieces, Beverly’s mother invited her to use her studio space for a show.

“I was incredibly flattered, because this woman went to art school and has thrown galleries for professional artists,” Beverly said. “The fact that she was telling me that my artwork was good enough for display—it was such a boost to my ego, I just went ahead with it.”

Beverly finds deep meaning in the cohesion of nature, and through depictions of nature, showcases another important component of herself: her native identity.

“I have a whole series of Zentangling with animals,” said Beverly. “Some of them are my totem animals, which are like guides or symbols.”

Beverly uses deer imagery in her art to express her identity as a member of the deer clan within the Cherokee tribe. She is associated with the Sandhill Band of Cherokee and Lenape, where she serves on the women’s council.

“I have these women on the council constantly in my ear, talking to me about keeping the culture alive, staying in it,” said Beverly. “Coming to Fordham, there’s not a lot of that. As one of the few indigenous students, I really want to push representation here, especially through the Native American History Month Committee.”

Beverly currently serves as cultural programming coordinator for this committee. In addition to the annual Native American Festival on Nov. 9, Fordham’s Native American History Month will invite the student body to a host of intersectional events. Two Spirit After Dark, for example, will celebrate LGBTQ+ identities through a performance at the Lincoln Center campus.

“The culture’s really alive,” Beverly said. “We have live performers who are coming in, and this is part of their culture today—they live and breathe it. I live and breathe my culture.”

Performance art and her own artistry are just two manifestations of the vibrant culture Beverly aims to share with the larger world.

“A lot of people try to brush off you being Indian when you say you’re mixed,” said Beverly. “I really hope that people finally realize that Native Americans are here. They exist. They’re in front of you. They’re among you.”