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 David K. John  (1963 - )

About: David K. John
 

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Arizona      Known for: abstract Indian symbolism painting, sculpture, ceramics

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Biography from Cooper's Art Gallery & Brokerage:
• Native American Heritage – Navajo
• Raised near Keams Canyon, AZ
• Principal works are acrylic on canvas and bas relief sculpture

• David’s formal art training began in high school, where he majored in commercial art. Upon graduation, he was awarded a full scholarship to the two-year degree program at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA).  He graduated with the school’s award for Outstanding Two-Dimensional Artist. He also studied at Southern Utah University.

• One of his paintings was chosen by the U.S. Census Bureau for use as the poster promoting the 1990 census. Suddenly, his work was “everywhere”.

• In 2003, David was the poster artist for Santa Fe Indian Market.

• In 2001, he was the poster artist for Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art, Indianapolis, Indiana

• David’s approach is a mix of the symbolic, the gorgeous, the representational and the bold. The subject matter is the myths, legends and symbols of the Navajo culture. “I want everything I do to be respectful to our past; but I also want there to be imagination in it. That’s what makes it art.”

• John's characteristic messenger is the Yei Be Chei, an ethereal messenger to the Dine. Since exact replication of the sacred icon is taboo, he modifies the image to the satisfaction of his tribe's spiritual leaders. According to collectors, the alteration does not affect the impact of the painting's message.

• John has won many awards for his paintings and masks, including awards at the Intertribal Ceremonial in Gallup and the Santa Fe Indian Market. Most notably…

• 2009 Best of Show-at The Annual Native American Art Show in Blanding, UT
• 2007 1st place painting Santa Fe Indian Market
• 2006 3rd place for drawing, Santa Fe Indian Market
• 2003 2nd place for painting, Santa Fe Indian Market
• 2002 “Quick Draw Award, Pueblo Grande Museum Indian Market
• 2002 1st place for painting, Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial
• 2001 1st place for painting, West Valley Native American Arts Festival
• 2001 1st place and 2nd place for painting, Museum of Northern Arizona
• 1987 Best in Category Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Biography from Kiva Fine Art:
Raised by his great grandfather, a medicine man, David K. John grew up hearing the stories and teachings of his homeland.  In his art, John expresses his own interpretations of his childhood learning with the utmost care and respect.  John has won many awards for his paintings and masks, including awards at the Intertribal Ceremonial in Gallup and the Santa Fe Indian Market.

A sense of peace impacts admirers of David K. John's paintings. Soft-spoken and humble, John adored his grandfather, a medicine man who instilled profound, spiritual beliefs in the young Dine.  John spent much of his childhood attending healing events-from seasonal rituals to sand painting ceremonies where he often participated and was instructed by the most revered members of his culture: the medicine men.

"Many people cry when they look at David's work," says gallery owner Paula Rhae McDonald.

Making no excuses for his spirituality, John is specific about his use of color.  Like most native American tribes, the Dine associate particular colors with the four directions: yellow-the west, white- the east, turquoise-the south, and black- the north.

John's characteristic messenger is the Yei Be Chei, an ethereal messenger to the Dine.  Since exact replication of the sacred icon is taboo, he modifies the image to the satisfaction of his tribe's spiritual leaders.  According to collectors, the alteration does not affect the impact of the painting's message.

John believes passing on strong teachings is critical to a better future.  He instructs his son and daughter in the teachings he was given.  At the same time, he encourages them with 21st century technologies. The children are already perpetuating tradition by selling their own artwork.

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