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 Les Namingha  (1967 - )

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Lived/Active: Arizona      Known for: Indian motif, pottery

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Concave base bowl
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Honored at the 1998 Santa Fe Indian Market for his Hopi and Zuni style pottery and non-traditional painting, he learned pottery on the Hopi reservation in Arizona from his aunt, Dextra Nampeyo. He combines traditional motifs with modernist influences such as designs of Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, and in his personal life, he combines the Mormon religion with his Native American heritage.

He was born into a family of renowned Indian artists, and his mother was Zuni and his father was part Tewa and part Hopi. For him, a life-changing event occurred when he was eleven and his mother decided he should be educated in Salt Lake City in a Mormon educational program, which placed Indian children with Mormon families to attend public schools. Her intent was to give him a good background to go to college and to get him away from the environment that had caused his father to die of alcoholism.

To enroll, Namingha had to convert to the Mormon faith and pledge to live by the church tenants of no drugs, tobacco, alcohol or other stimulants. At first he was torn between this and his native culture but grew to incorporate both of them in his life, forming close bonds with both reservation people and Morman associates.

From 1986 to 1988, he did missionary work in Leeds, England and then enrolled as an art student in Brigham Young University from which he graduated in 1993. He continuously studied pottery with his family on the reservation, and although living in Provo, he commutes frequently to work with his aunt Dextra Quotskuyva, a prominent Hopi potter.

From Dextra, he has learned great respect for the earth's material such as clay, and working from his home studio with his wife, Jocelyn, also a potter, they color their pots with plant juices. Some of his pottery has lively abstract designs which he incorporates with Hopi symbols. He says that being a potter also keeps him humble because "the pots have a life of their own" ("Southwest Art" 4/99). And in 1998, he began painting on canvas--bold expressionist, architectural designs in which he also uses Indian symbolism.

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