The art of Navajo Sand Painting has come a long way. There was a time in the 1960s and 1970s when the tourist market and the widespread interest in Indian arts and crafts was huge.
Every gas station in the West was selling squash blossom necklaces and anything “Indian” was in high demand.
During this time, small sand paintings were easily sold in the tourist market. But it didn’t take long for serious artists on the Navajo Reservation to begin experimenting and creating elaborate, finely detailed Sand Paintings that were accepted in the Native art world.
Far sighted traders like Eddie Foutz at Shiprock Trading Post encouraged these artists to create more and more elaborate and beautiful designs.
Among the best were people like Eugene Joe and Joe Ben, Jr. who created designs other than the traditional Sand Paintings.
Today, a new young artist is making his mark. Ben’s son, Zachariah, is creating sand paintings that draw on the spiritual beliefs of the Navajo in a manner that honors that tradition and clearly sits in the fine art category.
He took most of the last year off, helping his family tend the fields of corn that they grow and staying safe as the virus ravaged the Navajo Nation.
He’s now back and brought in two exciting paintings that we are proud to share with you.
These paintings, Night Chant, Big Chant and Star Girl are not done on the typical particle board backgrounds like most sand paintings. He has built a box foundation for the works that displays the paintings away from the surface of the wall and really sets them apart.
His colors are all from ground up minerals and natural-colored sands. This is a young man with a wonderful future as an artist ahead of him.