Born in Fairbanks, Alaska to a Tlingit/N’ishga Mother and Hippy/American father his work stems from an examination of a multicultural heritage and social expectations and definitions. Da-ka-xeen was raised in two environments, one as an urban Native in Anchorage and the other as a rural Hippy in Fairbanks living without electricity, running water or phones, and heating the house with a wood stove. In particular his work has focused on the constructs of Native American identity, and an attempt to define the Self outside of these constructs. He uses the materials and tools of his family to express himself. From the steel and concrete of his Labor Union father, to the crook knife and cedar of his Alaska Native ancestors,Da-ka-xeen received his A.A. from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and his B.F.A. from the University of New Mexico. From 1994-2000 Mehner served as the founder and director of Site 21/21, a contemporary art gallery in Albuquerque, NM, and was a founding member/owner of the (Fort) 105 Art Studios in downtown Albuquerque in 1998. Da-ka-xeen returned to Alaska in 2000 and earned his M.F.A in Native Arts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2007. He currently live in Fairbanks Alaska with his wife Maya, and son Keet. Da-ka-xeen is an Associate Professor of Native Arts at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and director of the UAF Native Arts Center.
Portrait photo courtesy the artist.