Images of Navajos at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Now showing at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (until 11 Aug) on the University of Utah campus is an exhibit titled:  Bierstadt to Warhol:  American Indians in the West.  It is highly recommended, particularly if you love the redrock country of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.  According to the museum promo:

[The exhibit] is an ambitious exhibition comprising more than 100 oil paintings, sculpture, and works on paper. . . .  It examines depictions of American Indian identity in a diverse array of styles:  from the traditional European schools to Modernist abstraction and conceptual renderings of cultural motifs.

Of the 100, approximately 20 of the paintings depict Navajo culture and the expansive landscapes of the reservation.  They also document an historic culture that is rapidly disappearing.

"Navajo Hogan" by Don Louis Perceval (1930s)

“Navajo Hogan” by Don Louis Perceval (1930s)

The traditional home for the Navajo is the circular hogan.  The female hogan is for living, and the male hogan for ceremonies.  The above structure is for living.  On the reservation, hogan homes have been mostly replaced by tract houses and trailers. 

"This Way and That" by Ila Mae McAfee (c. 1927)

“This Way and That” by Ila Mae McAfee (c. 1927)

The horse as a serious means of transportation has been largely replaced by the pickup truck and the 4-wheeler.  But much of the horse culture still lives on.

"Navajo Girl with Lamb" by Conrad Burr (1940s)

“Navajo Girl with Lamb” by Conrad Burr (1940s)

Navajo children are still adorable, but today few dress in traditional attire, except for pow-wows and other ceremonial events.  But there are still a lot of sheep and goats on the reservation.

"Navajo Sheperdess" by William S. Darling (early 20th century)

“Navajo Sheperdess” by William S. Darling (early 20th century)

While extremely arid, the redrock country in the Colorado Plateau is incredibly beautiful.  And it is not unusual to Navajos and their dogs out tending the herd.

"Susie Yazzie" by Logan Maxwell Hagege (2012)

“Susie Yazzie” by Logan Maxwell Hagege (2012)

This is my favorite painting in the whole show.  I work a lot in the Navajo Nation, mainly with elders (particularly older women).  This painting is a wonderful reminder of the Navajo seniors that I have met (several are in their 90s).  They have all been very nice and gracious, but unfortunately many do not speak English.  So, unfortunately, our verbal communications have been very limited.

Also in the show are two paintings by Navajo artist Shonto Begay who lives on the reservation in northern Arizona.

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This entry was posted in Art, Environment, Navajoland, Travel, utah. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Images of Navajos at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

  1. The show is a good recognition of the people. Thanks for the heads up

  2. Fishing4Deals says:

    Thanks for writing this up. Maybe we will have time on our next visit to Utah.

  3. Mindy Wilson says:

    Roger, we’re so glad you enjoyed the exhibition and thought it worth sharing. Please e-mail me at the address below so that we can add you to our monthly events listing.

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