January 16, 2012

Jetsonorama's larger-than-life art

Reservation artist depicts Navajos in larger-than-life art

By Jenny KaneA gallery of faces lines a desolate stretch of highway between Kayenta and Flagstaff, Ariz. Codetalkers, cowboys, mothers, children the faces are cutouts of enlarged black-and-white photographs, some stretching 40 feet tall. They are pasted upon dilapidated structures such as vendor booths, rodeo stands, oil tanks and even a few fully functioning trading posts.

The faces laugh, stare, and gawk at people driving by at 70 miles per hour, or more.

Some people notice, some don't.
And:He is not what you'd expect.

He is a tall, lanky African American doctor with organic-looking shoes, shoes that a modern Peter Pan might wear today. His coarse hair is a nest of tiny rolls, sometimes hidden by a green knit beanie. He has very modern glasses with clear plastic rims, and his only other accessory is a strip of green cloth wrapped around his wrist as a bracelet.

He lives in a nook of government housing just outside of his workplace, the Inscription House Clinic. The clinic is an isolated health center outside of Shonto, Ariz., a reservation town with a population of 591.
And:A large part of the picture, as Jetsonorama sees it, is the celebration of the Navajo people and land, but also their coinciding deterioration.

As often as he has young, fresh faces laughing at the wide sky, he has solemn, wrinkled elders looking out at a barren landscape. Each depicts either an appreciation of or a fear for what is going on in the surrounding environment.

Some depict the divide between traditionalism and modernism, such as the image of a peyote button, or a handful of what is considered a controversial but traditional herbal tool. Others show individuals with messages about saving water sources written across their heads.
Comment:  Except when the art is ripped and peeling, I like Jetsonorama's style. It makes a bold statement about the Navajo.

For more on the subject, see Jetsonorama's Navajo Coal Art.

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