August 24, 2010

Navajo mural in Van Gogh style

Acclaimed Navajo artist donates mural to Williams

Unique collaboration by youth, artists on 'Sacred Hunt'

By Ryan Williams
Much like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, one wall at the east end of downtown Williams was transformed from plain brick to the host of a vibrant multi-colored mural.

The mural, started July 3, is the work of Flagstaff-based Navajo artist Shonto Begay in collaboration with Cy Wagoner.
And:The mural features a Navajo hunter and a young boy preparing for a hunt.

"The image itself is totally from my head," Begay said. "I sketched it out ahead of time. It's an image of a hunter paying tribute to the animals that he is going to go hunt. To give that prayer, that honor before hand. Blessing it. So that's why the animals are coming out of the woods. All the ones we use as food. There are a lot of lessons and stories about the animals in the beginning. Creation. They know the purposes. How we sustain one another. Inhabiting the fourth world. I wanted to bring that. Also, the young boy learning the way."
And:Many of Begay's works exhibit impressionistic qualities, bringing the paintings of Van Gogh and his contemporaries to mind.

Begay acknowledged some similarities but never really studied Van Gogh's work.

"I would call myself a Neo-Impressionist situated in my own unconventional reality," he said. "As a Native, we always work from the lens that we're born with, the things that we know. Basically, it's mainly about recreating that and of course education being a major part of it. When I do murals I always have young people help me."
Comment:  For more on Native murals, see Mural Commemorates Ojibwe Rescuer, Mural in Window Rock Post Office and Indian Land Dancing Mural.

Below:  "Navajo artist Shonto Begay paints scenery on a mural entitled Sacred Hunt that was donated to the city of Williams last month. Begay worked on the mural in collaboration with fellow artist Cy Wagoner and an area youth group." (Ryan Williams/NHO)

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