Robert I Mesa (Navajo/ Soboba) is writer, artist,
photographer and actor working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
He studied filmmaking at the Institute of American Indian
Arts. He had an exhibition at the Ningbo Museum of Art in
Ningbo, China (2016), where he was an artist-in-residence.
While there he completed Fort Defiance, a documentary
that followed a creative exchange between Native American
and Chinese traditions, viewpoints, and histories, instigating
new cultural dialogue between distant peoples.
As an actor, he recently traveled to New Zealand to play
the esteemed role of Tecumseh in an upcoming mini-series
titled Frontiersman (2017), executive produced by Leonardo
As a self-taught photographer, he initially began to train his
eye for filmmaking. His photography lead to documenting
numerous acclaimed Native American artists, including
Bob Haozous, with whom he shared a debut photography
exhibition with. Mesa’s experience in journalism for
publications like Native Peoples and The Navajo Times
informed investigations into his own Navajo and Soboba
heritage. Through video work, photography, and by cultivating
an acting persona, he aims to raise cultural awareness
regarding empowerment within identity. Musicians, wildlife,
sports, and fashion all fall under Mesa’s broad lens, capturing
his world through a burgeoning vision. He has participated in
multiple art markets including The Autry (Los Angeles), the
Heard (Phoenix), and the Santa Fe Indian Market.