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 Dan Namingha  (1950 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Arizona      Known for: mod Indian motif painting-abstraction and realism

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BIOGRAPHY for Dan Namingha
1950 (Keams Canyon, Arizona)
New Mexico/Arizona

Often Known For
mod Indian motif painting-abstraction and realism

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Dan Namingha was born in 1950 in Keams Canyon, Arizona.  He studied art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and The American Academy of Art in Chicago.

Namingha, whose ancestry is Hopi-Tewa, carries a strong family tradition of artistic expression into its fifteenth generation.  His great-great-grandmother, Nampayco, is credited with rekindling the art of Hopi Pottery, which his mother and sister continue.  Namingha's uncles carve some of three-hundred variations of Hopi kachinas - doll-sized, wooden renderings of ceremonial dancers who are messengers of the spirit world.

Namingha's studies at art schools and at the Institute of American Indian Arts, led him toward the new movements that encouraged experimentation with traditional art forms.  That sense of freedom is what he found so alluring in the art of the Abstract Expressionists, which he first discovered at the age of ten in an encyclopedia on his Arizona reservation.  The works of Picasso and Klee, for example, which borrow petroglyphs and icons from indigenous cultures that the artists themselves did not understand, beguiled the young Namingha.  By imitating those masters he learned to transform, with deep understanding and authority, the symbols of his own visionary culture into contemporary art.  By drawing on his 3500-year-old culture as well as his experience of modern America, Namingha gives us American art not only at its source but also at its best.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Janet Hawkins in Harvard Magazine, November-December 1994.
From the internet,

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Dan Namingha was born in 1950 in Keams Canyon, Arizona.  The artist now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Namingha studied art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and The American Academy of Art in Chicago. He first showed his work in 1972 and has since participated in over 50 exhibitions.

His works can be found in museum collections in the United States, Germany, England and Slovakia as well as American embassies in Brazil, Denmark, Senegal, Bolivia, Africa, and Switzerland.

His numerous awards include those from The Harvard Foundation, the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University and the Visionary Award from the Institute of American Indian Arts Foundation.

David McFdden, "Changing Hands", Southwest Art Magazine, August 2002

Biography from Ann Korologos Gallery:
Dan Namingha is from the Tewa-Hopi tribe. He has been showing professionally as an artist for forty years. His works focus on respect for the earth and spirit of his ancestry, the beautiful heritage that is the heart of his creativity. He is constantly drawn to his roots so deeply embedded in ceremony yet allows his viewers only a guarded glimpse of his sacred traditions; the spirit messengers, the kachinas representing blessings, ancestors and cloud people…all of these forming the interim of visage between the physical and the spirit world.

Namingha paints and sculpts the imagery of his homeland and his peoples, always with the integrity instilled in him by that depth of belief and love of spirit. Drawing and painting was a natural part of Hopi childhood. It gave him a way to express his strong feelings about the culture and environment leading to a path of creative freedom. He feels that change and evolution are a continuum; socially, politically, spiritually and that the future of our planet and membership of the human race must be monitored to insure survival in the spirit of cultural and technology diversity. He says that only then can we merge the positive and negative polarization and balance so necessary to communal spirit of the universe.

His work is in the collections of The National Museum of the American Indian in New York, The Tucson Museum of Art, The Denver Art Museum, and The Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles.

Biography from Adobe Gallery:

Dan Namingha is the son of Dextra Quotskuyva Nampeyo, and he was raised on the Hopi Reservation. His great grandmother was Rachel Nampeyo. He has been published in over 32 publications; has received commissions for public buildings including Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix; has had more than 35 group exhibitions plus more than 16 one-man exhibitions; and has received numerous awards.

Originally, he was a realistic painter but began to paint in more abstract ways after 1972.  He credits Otellie Loloma with encouraging him in this.

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