An Exhibition Project
In 2004, I was fortunate to go with my church out to the Navajo Reservation near Gallup, New Mexico. At the Pinedale Full Gospel United Methodist Church, our group helped construct a playground for the Navajo people. While there, we lived and worshipped with the Indian community and grew close to them in friendship, getting to know them as individuals rather than stereotypes.
The land they live on is vast and ancient and silent, except for screech of the hunting hawk and the wind. It is a place of solitude, but not loneliness; a place where we could feel the powerful connection of God with his creation.
The earth there is a warm sepia brown and so are the people. The eyes of the old ones are squinty and the eyes of the children are round and curious and both faces are full of laughter and joy.
Of course, as an artist, I was enthralled with studying the faces of these beautiful people and walking the sandstone cliffs of their land. I took many photographs and opened myself, both physically and spiritually, to this new experience. I came away from the reservation with many treasures, subtle intangible gifts from the heart of these gentle people of deep, quiet strength.
In response and to honor these Navajo people, I am working on a series of paintings—portraits of the people and the landscape—that show them as they are, not glamorized or Anglicized, but hopefully conveying the warmth, humor, hope and joy that I found at Pinedale.
My working title is, “Navajo Blue”, a response to the intense blue of the skies and to the nuance of melancholy that I felt on the reservation. Every painting will have this deep, rich ultramarine blue hue worked into the color scheme.
When this series is complete, it will be presented as a touring collection, beginning with the Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram, Texas. It is my desire to also include in this exhibition the arts and crafts of my Pinedale friends, who do beautiful pottery and other Native American crafts. Also through video and interactive displays, it is my hope that I can share something of this wonderful, mysterious, ancient and modern Navajo culture with others.
As an Anglo it is impossible to truly know the Native American people, we are always looking in from the outside, through eyes of misunderstanding and assumptions---but through art and the sharing of faith in the Creator God, there are ways that we can discover how we are more alike than different.
Please visit this site for news of the progress of “Navajo Blue.” I will post images of the paintings and a touring schedule as they develop. I welcome any inquiries about this exhibition, particularly those from art centers or museums interested in featuring “Navajo Blue” in their future show schedules.
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