The world according to Shaggy
Kayla Shaggy (Studio Art, ’17) created comics to illustrate their political views, cultural questions, and regional challenges.
Kayla Shaggy (Studio Art, ’17) is a member of the Navajo Nation and grew up in northern New Mexico. Their grandmother, Arlene Smart (Psychology and Studio Art, ’72), encouraged Shaggy to pursue their passion for drawing at Fort Lewis College. Curious, Shaggy moved to Durango and got to work looking for a place to plug into on campus.
“I felt more comfortable at FLC when I found a community within the Native American Center and Gender & Resource Sexuality Center,” Shaggy (she/they) said. “I was able to embrace my identity in the safety and support of others like me.”
Emboldened with a sense of belonging, Shaggy focused on their art classes. Sitting in an Art History course taught by associate professor Cory Pillen, Shaggy discovered a phrase that helped them understand and embrace their artistic style.
“[Professor Pillen] was teaching about ‘outside art,’” Shaggy explained. “That’s like me. I’ve always felt like the oddball in my art classes.”
Shaggy took printmaking, screen printing, and 3D classes but always returned to drawing. She enjoyed the approachability of comic strips.
“With comics, you get into things like representation,” she said. “I wanted to make art that was a positive, meaningful representation of Indigenous queer people. I want to make art that I would’ve liked when I was younger. I would’ve appreciated seeing myself in art back then.”
Since graduating in 2017, Shaggy has created comics to illustrate their political views, cultural questions, and regional challenges. In 2022, Netflix’s iconic documentary series, Unsolved Mysteries, featured Shaggy’s paranormal monster drawings. Shaggy currently self-publishes comic strips in Phoenix, Arizona.