Johnson Yazzie

Johnson Yazzie

I am emerging into the art world like a butterfly coming out its cocoon. The departure can be a worthwhile adventure like the way nature guides the new butterfly into the unknown world with little or no expectation of rewards but journeys on in the hope of enriching lives wherever it lands.

This journey for me has been an eye opener. I have come to realize emergence is a process and not an event. It started about 20 years ago in 1988. Since then I have traveled the circuit of the art world. I must say life on the road is both good and not so good; but I don’t regret the path I have chosen. The process of emergence will always be challenging with its ups and downs; nevertheless, I always look forward to its rewards.

Over the years as I have traveled, I have accumulated fans that in turn I have accepted as family and friends. Who else other than a family member can give you the hundred percent of family support?

I find joy in doing student art workshops. Kids are amazing artists when it comes right down to it. Give them ten minutes and they’ll come out with amazing ideas that will blow you away! You cannot imagine how much you will learn from them by watching their artwork as it takes shape. I tell them we are here to learn from one another. This way both of us have an understanding of openness and freedom to put our artistic ability to the test, leaving the instructions to the teachers. Again, the students are emerging, with lots of potential and curiosity. I hope only the best for them.

I am a member of a non-profit group named Reunion of the Masters. The group is composed of prominent Native American and non-Native American artists. We work with the Southwest Indian Foundation of Gallup, New Mexico to promote Native American art and also to develop artistic talent among area students.

My painting style is realistic, and is painted in the style of the Old Dutch Masters, with dark under painting, followed by layers of paint. I begin each new painting with heavy washes of dark colors, and slowly bring the figures forward out of that darkness. As the individuality of each portrait establishes itself, the mood of the piece, the background colors and the details fall into place. I use pastel chalks in this same manner.

Many of my paintings have been portraits of American Indians, Indian faces, ceremonial gatherings and scenes of the everyday life on a reservation. This intrigues me as much as any other subject I have painted. Not all American Indians live on reservations; however, the ones that do will tell you their Way of Life is not like it used to be. With that in mind if it isn’t already too late, I believe that now is the time to start recording the native people’s art, artifacts and their stories so it can be preserved for the future generations to see for themselves what their ancestors may have looked like at one time or another.

As an artist I also have a long-term goal, and that is to expand my horizons and become an ever-better painter. My belief is that learning and growing should continue until one’s last day. Pursuit of new art opportunities, adventures and exploration are part of my emergence and advancement in my life as both person and artist. In this sense, I want to go into other levels of the art world to explore new opportunities that in the past I may not have envisioned as a goal. One of these opportunities intended for exploration is that I want to study my subject matter more in depth in terms of humanity, not just the subject’s appearance. I think this is the exciting part of art, when an artist ventures into the unknown and returns educated and more well rounded as a person.

Source: Art of the People

Johnson Yazzie