David Johns was born in Winslow, Arizona. Johns received formal training in fine arts from Northern Arizona University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in 1982. In 1996, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from Northern Arizona University.
Johns started selling portraits and landscapes while still in high school. His work combines his formal training with the traditional teachings he learned as a child and the Navajo philosophy of life by which he lives. The symmetry of his paintings reflect this harmony and balance; the colors and textures he creates reflect the beauty of the land from which he comes. His abstract paintings capture life’s subtle phenomena such as the sunlight at different times of the day or the emotions brought by each of the four seasons.
In 1987, Johns was approached by long-time mentor Lovena Ohl and Albert Wareing to paint a mural on the dome of Concord Place. The mural covered thirty-six feet in diameter and rose 50 feet in the air, and took 18 months to paint. The mural depicts native peoples in all four directions, presenting indigenous designs and symbols, and portraits of great leaders such as Crazy Horse and Quanah Parker.
Beginning in 1976, David’s work has been exhibited at gallery shows all over the world, with many solo exhibitions including Navajo Tribal Museum, Window Rock, Arizona (1977); C.G. Rein Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1984); The Concord Place, Phoenix, Arizona (1987); Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, New Mexico (1993); Palais de Nations, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland (1999); and the Lanning Gallery, Sedona, Arizona (2006).
Portrait of Diné Woman
Artist: David JohnsDescription: Acrylic on Canvas (1997) | Image Size: 36”h x 48”w; Unframed/Stretcher Bars
Often incorporating abstract elements as well as realism in his work, here David Johns has nestled a Diné weaver’s contemplative portrait within his perception of her creative process.
Artist: David JohnsDescription: Acrylic on Canvas (2004) | Image Size: 44”h x 40”w; Unframed/Stretcher Bars
“My creations on paper or canvas do not come from a place of preconception. They come from the inner most chamber of my soul. The essence of what I am is a spiritual being. I am a Diné (Navajo) man of the Tl’a’a’shchi’I’ clan and born for the Kiiya’’aannii clan. Evan as I write it, it feels like I am saying a prayer.
Everything I am and do I hope comes from a place of harmony. If my mind, body and spirit are in balance then I can produce an image which reflects my truth. I hope my abstractions are ways for the observer to feel the essence of my inner self; not to get caught up in the distractions of outer appearances. It is not the form that touches our deepest longings, but rather the story my images evoke in the viewer. This is the ultimate impact of my art,” opined David Johns.
Imagery of Dine’
Artist: David JohnsDescription: Acrylic on Canvas (1997) | Image Size: 39”h x 44”w; Unframed
In his own inimitable style, David Johns’ portraits of the Diné, the Navajo people, the central figure representationally appears to be reflective of the past, having purpose in the present, and aspiration for the future.
Couple Series #6
Artist: David JohnsDescription: Acrylic on Canvas (1995) | Image Size: 57”h x 42”w; Unframed
“I hope my abstractions are ways for the observers to feel the essence of my inner self; not get caught up in the distractions of outer appearances. It is not the form that touches our deepest longings but rather the story my images evoke in the viewer. This is the ultimate impact of my art.”
Artist: David JohnsDescription: Acrylic (2004) | Image Size: 30”w x 40”h; Unframed
Artist: David Johns
Artist: David Johns