student Marwin Begaye was the winner of the T.G. Mays Purchase Award
for his artwork.
serves as a constant source of inspiration for art throughout the
world. From the beginning of time, humans have used their surroundings
to express aspects of their lives through paintings, drawings, sculptures
and other artwork.
Begaye, fine arts graduate student, recently earned an art award
for putting these techniques into practice.
was the recipient of the T.G. Mays Purchase Award for a piece of
artwork entered in the 90th Annual School of Art Students' Exhibition,
which began April 2 at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. His winning
piece is titled "Dah yiitihi bi yiin," a Navajo expression meaning
piece incorporated a mixture of art techniques, including the use
of oil, acrylic, screenprint, graphite, lithocrayon, lithopencil,
baby and linseed oil on paper.
said he tries to experiment with different media, combining older
traditions with his own modern style.
said he attempts to maintain his culture by including elements of
its history in his works. Begaye's award-winning painting features
a hummingbird, an important symbol to his Navajo culture.
hummingbird is used as a messenger," Begaye said. "For the Navajo,
in some aspects [hummingbirds] are used for good luck, good fortune
or to mean good things will come to you."
passion for art began while growing up in Jones Ranch Community
near Gallup, N.M. Begaye said he was always surrounded by different
forms of art when he was a child.
said his grandmother and several of his aunts are rug weavers, while
other relatives are jewelers. He also said the atmosphere of living
on a Native American reservation inspired creativity in artwork.
you live on a reservation, you kind of make due with stuff," Begaye
said. "You work with found objects and make them into stuff. You
take part of billboards and make shacks. You're kind of composing
structures or sculptures, or whatever. That's a kind of an art."
attending OU in 1994 for only a year, Begaye had to postpone further
education at the university so he could work to earn money for student
returned to the School of Art in 2001 to pursue a master's degree
in fine arts with an emphasis on printmaking. He studied under the
advisement of Dan Kiacz, printmaking professor, who Begaye said
was a very influential force in his life and his artwork.
Begaye said the recent acceptance of the prestigious purchase award
was an uplifting moment in his life, he said it came at a bittersweet
a week after Begaye received the accolade for his work, the mentor
who had helped him come so far passed away. Kiacz was 55 years old
when he died on April 9.
will teach Kiacz's printmaking classes for the remainder of the
semester. Begaye said he is dedicated to carrying Kiacz's legacy
by trying to be as encouraging and motivating as his former professor.
really encouraged me to create relationships with the students,
to encourage them to reach the next level of their creativity,"
Begaye said. "I'm just going to be who I am. I try to do things
as he liked them."
Begaye has experienced a loss in his life with the death of his
friend and mentor, he said he plans to stay positive and serve as
a source of inspiration for people who observe his artwork.
trying to keep it up and maintain momentum even though there are
hardships," Begaye said. "I just want to be influential to artists
in the community."
said he was very excited to win his second purchase award for his
artwork. He won the Oscar B. Jacobson Purchase Award in 2002 for
a piece titled, "Winter Prayers."
was really quite a surprise that I won. I was kind of glad that
they bestowed that honor on me," Begaye said. "I feel very, very
honored to be a part of their collection."
Jo Watson, associate professor in the School of Art, said the purchase
award recipient is selected by a panel of judges, who are usually
museum directors, art connoisseurs or specialists from around the
judges must be capable of recognizing quality artwork so they can
distribute the purchase award to a worthy piece, Watson said. The
museum then has the option of purchasing the student artwork.
museum will buy the piece, the artist will receive money for it
and then the piece will go into the permanent collection of the
museum," Watson said.
said Begaye's artwork was likely selected for the award because
of the multiple techniques included in the piece.
artwork has a very good presence because it's made by a person who
has the concepts and originality," Watson said. "He's a very fine
graphic artist, printmaker and painter."