Native artists show wares at Prescott Indian Art Market
Event continues Sunday at Sharlot Hall Museum
Updated as of Saturday, July 13, 2019 11:27 PM
Using a photo as a resource, Diné Navajo artist Jerilynn Yazzie painted a portrait of her grandmother smoking mountain tobacco and doing a prayer in Yazzie’s home, blowing the smoke to the south.
“You blow it every four directions, you blow it up and you blow it down,” Yazzie said. “You’re asking for blessing from the four sacred directions, and also you’re blessing, in my home, the four walls of my house.”
Prescott Indian Arts Market
For Yazzie, Saturday, July 13, was not only her first time at the Prescott Indian Art Market, but it was her first art show, though she did say she travels to sell her jewelry.
Yazzie said she has been sketching ever since she was a little kid as an escape from not having a lot to do on the reservation. It wasn’t until about five years ago that she started to focus on art because, while she was already making jewelry, she wanted to do express her creativity and capture her Navajo culture in a way she didn’t see anybody else doing, she said.
Yazzie said she chose to create art depicting aspects of her heritage because she wants to empower native women and youth. She wants little girls to know there is something they can do, even if they find themselves bored on the reservation like she did, she said.
“I want to encourage kids, and women in particular young girls, to be creative,” Yazzie said.
A single mother, Yazzie inspired her son, Kyle Yazzie, to begin painting. At 12 years old, Kyle Yazzie was sitting next to his mother, working on a painting as one of the market’s four youth artists.
The 22nd year for the market, this year’s Best of Show award went to Diné Navajo sculptor Raymond Chee Sr. who also earned first-place honors in sculpture. His piece, “Night Dancers,” which depicts legendary Apache Crown Dancers, was awarded first place for excellence in wood carving.
Chee said he picked up the wood for the sculpture two years ago and started picking at it. It took him between two and three months to finish it, he said.
Chee said he has been sculpting since the late 1970s and goes into it as a hobby. He is always pushing himself to improve on his work, he said.
“I like to challenge myself,” Chee said. “I like to achieve something even greater than what I created last time.”
Blue ribbons also were awarded to Hopi artist White Swan in pottery, and Diné Navajo artist Trent Lee-Anderson in jewelry. Diné Navajo artist Rena Begay was recognized in traditional arts for her elegant weavings, and Diné Navajo artist Peterson Yazzie was recognized in two-dimensional art for his painting.
The Prescott Indian Art Market continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 14, featuring artwork of varying mediums and demonstrations on basketry, rug weaving, rock art, glass-blowing, kachina carving, Zuni fetish sculpting, dancing and music.
One of the market’s demonstrators, Choctaw artist David Morris, said he has been carving petroglyph rock art since about 1989. The Choctaw people in Oklahoma have some petroglyphs but none quite like there are in Arizona, Morris said. When he got to the state and started teaching school on the reservation, he said he saw the petroglyphs and became enamored with them and the designs.
“I wanted one,” Morris said. “But I decided the only way I was going to get one is if I learned how to do it myself.”
Morris carves his petroglyphs the way archaeologists say most of the carvings were done: with stone tools. He usually likes to create hunt symbols, lizards, snakes and turtles which mean a lot to the Choctaw people, he said.
Admission to the Prescott Indian Art Market is $12 for adults, $8 for museum members and free for youth. The Sharlot Hall Museum is located at 415 W. Gurley St.
For more information, call 928-445-3122 ext. 0 or visit www.sharlot.org/piam.