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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Picturing Artists Differently
by Shondiin Silversmith - Navajo Times

Diné Painter Hopes To Move Women Artists To The Foreground

Flagstaff, AZ — Quick, name three Navajo painters.

Navajo painter Venaya Yazzie's painting “Desert Girl,” is one of a series of paintings with the same title. (Courtesy photo)

Navajo painter Venaya Yazzie from Huerfano, N.M. presented about Navajo women artists during the 20th Navajo Studies Conference last weekend. (photo by Shondiin Silversmith - Navajo Times)

If you’re like most people in these parts, you probably came up with R.C. Gorman, Harrison Begay and Gerald Nailor.

Have you even heard of Sierra Edd, Winona Dawn-House or Elizabeth Whitethorne-Benally?

If not, you just proved Navajo artist Venaya Yazzie’s point. The Diné may be a matrilineal society, but when it comes to art, the men get all the press.

How many female Navajo painters can you name? That was the question Yazzie, 41, used to open her presentation during the Navajo Studies Conference in Flagstaff, Ariz. on May 30.

Yazzie’s presentation, “Trailing the artistic matriarch: Navajo women painters and their vision in the 21st century,” included research on Navajo women artists whose art “steadfastly focuses on the complexities of the enduring Navajo matriarch and culture.”

Yazzie said she started her research because she’s been painting for almost 20 years, and she has noticed that men dominate the painting field.

“Our art and what we do is legitimate, and it is important to the dialogue of Navajo art and the field of painting,” Yazzie said of Navajo women painters.







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