Michael Lacapa - A Man With A Gift
Michael Lacapa, of Apache, Hopi and Tewa descent tells, writes, and illustrates children’s stories that not only
capture the imagination of Native American children but their parents as well, Lacapa, born at the Phoenix Indian Hospital, has spent much of his life in and around Whiteriver on the Fort Apache Reservation so he knows the world of his audience.
At Cradleboard Elementary School in Whiteriver, principal Barbara Nolan says,“he has a wonderful way of relating stories and instilling pride in the children. He gives them the understanding that they can be successful in the outside world and still maintain their identity. They can hear Michaels’ stories a million times and still love them.”
Lacapa designed the colorful floors in the school’s entance and cafeteria using a Hopi-inspired pattern because he believes a sense of the environment can contribute to the student’s sense of pride.
His love of art led his parents to urge him to prepare for a “real job” so he first earned a degree in art education from ASU – Arizona State University. Then, he taught art at two Phoenix area high schools and also Cradleboard Elementary. “My first degree as for my parents”, he says. “My second degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff - in painting and printmaking – was for me.
While at NAU, Flagstaff–based Northland Publishing asked him to illustrate The Mouse Couple, a Hopi folktale retold by Edward Malotki. It was Northland’s and Lacapa’s first picture book.
The experience gave him the courage to leave academia and devote more time to his own art while working a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. job as a courier.
“I’ve been a man of good fortune,” he says. “I’ve had good opportunities, I’ve made good friends and I’ve been able to give a voice to all the stories I heard as a child”.
Artist/Illustrator Michael Lacapa’s Books For Kids
The Good Rainbow Road ( University of Arizona Press) written by Simon J. Ortiz. Just released.
The Valley Of No Return (Breakfast Serials) written by John Tomerlin. Available only as a serialization.
Spider Spins A Story: Fourteen Legends From Native America
(Northland/Rising Moon), edited by Jill Max, illustrated by Michael Lacapa and other artists.
The Magic Hummingbird (Kiva Publishing) collected and translated by Ekkehart Malotki.
Less Than Half, More Than Whole (Storytellers Publishing) written with Kathleen Lacapa, Michael’s wife.
Antelope Woman (Storytellers Publishing).
The Mouse Couple (Northland Publishing), written by Ekkehart Malotki.
For books by and about NATIVE AMERICANS visit the University of Arizona Press - http://www.uapress.arizona.edu.
This story was edited from The Arizona Republic’s January 7th edition, bylined Connie Midey.