Collective Willeto : The Visionary Carvings of a Navajo Artist
About the book
Navajo medicine man Charlie Willeto spent the last years of his life prodigiously carving figures of wood, becoming a well-known personage in Navajo folk art. Although he died in 1964, his work lives on in this glossy collection of essays and photographs, which depict 100 of his carvings in full colour reproduction. We should thank this book for bringing Willeto out of obscurity.
Shonto Begay Biography
Shonto Begay is a Native American artist, illustrator, writer, and educator. He began his artistic career in 1983 and his art features landscapes and other cultural elements of Navajo life.
Biography and educationBegay was born into the Diné tribe on February 7, 1954, near Shonto, Arizona. His mother was a Navajo weaver from the Bitter Water clan and his father was a medicine man from the Salt clan. Begay was named via a traditional Navajo naming ceremony that is held once a baby has their first laugh; this name is only used by family members and Begay was given an American name by the government, "Wilson". Begay later changed this first name to his great-great grandmother's name, Shonto.Begay had fifteen siblings and his family lived in three hogans, which had no water or power. He spent his childhood herding sheep, reading books, and drawing. Begay did not initially see art as a viable career until he reached high school, as he initially believed that everyone knew how to draw. He attended a residential boarding school near Flagstaff, where he was expected to assimilate into western society. He, along with other children, were prohibited from expressing any aspects of their culture and would receive corporal punishment if they did otherwise. During this time, Begay coped with boarding school life by painting and drawing, which he often had to do in secret. This has prompted him to describe the act of painting as "removing myself from harsh reality and living in that world of beauty I have the power to create with my hand". During the summer Begay was allowed to return home to his parents, where he made sure to spend the time immersed in his culture.Begay eventually left his reservation to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he graduated with an associate degree in fine arts in 1976. He then attended the California College of Arts and Crafts, where he received his bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. While in California he met and married his former wife Cruz, with whom he had four children.Begay has worked as a National Parks ranger in Arizona and Wyoming and in 1983, began to paint professionally. He later moved back to his Navajo reservation in Arizona and currently lives in Kayenta, where he works on his art in a hogan located about 30 miles away from his house. He also teaches workshops to youth and believes that "art saves lives".
Art style and subject matterBegay's paintings depicts many aspects of Native American life; he has stated that he paints the landscapes of his reservation, the spiritual and cultural lore of the Diné, and the harsh realities of life on the reservation. His art has been likened to the art movement of social realism, as critics have stated that his art fights against the romanticism of native life. His style has also been compared to that of Vincent Van Gogh and neo-impressionists. Begay has commented about those comparisons, as he believes his style to be indi ... Read full biography
|Publisher:||Museum of New Mexico Press|
|Languages:||| English ||
|Illustrations:||100 colour photos|
|Publication date:||July 14, 2004|
|First Publication Date:||None|
|Publication City/Country:||New Mexico, United States|