Zachariah Ben just brought in a new selection of his work. Zachariah is the son of Joe Ben, Jr., who was one of the
original Navajo artists to use sand painting in a contemporary manner.
Ben is a dedicated young man and talented artist who is true to his traditional upbringing. He spends his time doing art, but his primary focus is living a traditional life. He didn’t work much last year, because of the pandemic, but he was also engaged in raising the corn on his family’s farm.
His latest creations are interesting in that they are based on the rock art found in the canyons of the Southwest. All the inhabitants of this part of the country carved their petroglyphs and art into the walls of the canyons, leaving a record of their beliefs and worldview. No one really knows what these people were thinking when they took the time to create these paintings, but in some sense, I believe it is because all people have a need to create and have art in their lives.
I can just imagine the father taking his children to show then the carving he had done in the canyon wall and explaining what it represented. He might even have shown them a pictograph done by his father! And later, when the Spanish arrived and the Mexican and American explorers traveled through the country, they left their marks as well.
Zachariah is not one to carve on sandstone walls, of course, as none of us should in this day and age. But he does use natural-colored sands and ground up rocks, to create his version of the ancient petroglyphs which reflect his respect for the people who came before.