Venaya J. Yazzie

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"Tip Toe through the Sage"


Original Watercolor on Archival paper Venaya J. Yazzie (Dine'/Hopi) 19 7/8" x 7" 2020 "Tip Toe through the Sage" embodies the ways in which an individual can be completely whole in the sanctuary of the land and flora and fauna, and sky elements. This painting depicts the Diné (Navajo) female being who is simply existing in her favored place- among the high desert sagebrush and the brilliance of the sky (sun and stars) above her. The Diné (Navajo) epistemology is tied to identity and therefore, grand narrative of the desert matriarch. Diné women are held in high esteem in our past and present lives. This work holds concepts of the heroic female archetype in the figure. "Tip Toe through the Sage" - originates from Diné cultural histories and cultural landscape and oral tradition. This work depicts the Diné female as highly stylized with geometric shapes and lines and which complement the soft curves of the sky, water, high desert fauna around her. She is 'adorned' in her southwest Indigenous women's jewelry items with turquoise bracelets on her arms. She wears a traditional women's hairstyle and blue garments. She is also depicted with the Navajo "chii" - (red ochre stain) on her right cheek which was traditionally used as a type of sunscreen. Later it would be adapted to represent the female as a 'warrior' being, which is a concept of "baa" - a warrior spirit. The symbolic representation of green and blue hues concerns the water (nature), the yellow and orange concern the sun, moon and stars, and life (humanity). The female figure is represented with the varied hues of the rainbow, which is a vital symbol of Diné cosmology.
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