Traditional Art and Culture Event Teaches Much More Than Painting (10 Photos)

Youth worked with Navajo artists and leaders during the Dahayóígíí event to learn traditional art and Navajo culture over three days.
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Navajo artists and leaders with youth spent July 10, 2017 learning the basics of traditional and contemporary art forms, along with culture and language at the annual Dahayóígíí event held at the Kirtland Middle School in Kirtland, New Mexico.

Dahayóígíí, or “strong ones,” taught a variety of traditional art forms at this year’s event according to The Daily Times.

ICMN reported on the event in 2014, when roughly 75 children and teens attended the three-day Dahayóígíí which was held in Shiprock, New Mexico then. That year, one of the main events was an acrylic painting demonstration during which all students were encouraged to make their mark on a large canvas.

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“We supply the materials and teach the basic techniques,” painting instructor Keno Zahney said in 2014. “From there, the students just paint. We want them to have the freedom and hands-on experience to work with color, texture and composition.”

The result was a four-by-six-foot masterpiece with contributions from dozens of aspiring artists.

The painting exhibition was one of many to take place during the art and culture event. Teachers demonstrated skills ranging from horsemanship to sand painting, and from hoop dancing to basket weaving—all the while speaking to students in Navajo and incorporating traditional wisdom, event coordinator Gabriel Benallie said.

“The arts being taught are culturally correct,” he said in 2014. “We’re essentially trying to teach the youth, to give them a first look at traditional arts, to give them a little foundation to blast off from.”

Traditional art

Zane Smith paints a shell to be used as a pendant.

Traditional art

Roycetin Lily learns the basics of rug weaving.

Traditional art

Chamisa Edd works on a mixed-media painting.

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Traditional art

Alexia Chee braids leather during a jewelry-making workshop.

Traditional art

Mari Lily watches as Sarah Natani demonstrates how to use a loom.

Traditional art

Teacher Sally Black demonstrates how to make a basket.

Traditional art

Teacher Bo Joe demonstrates how to braid materials for jewelry.

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Traditional art

Shantana Varela, left, and Nadalie Hunt concentrate on basket weaving.

Traditional art

Krystelle Boyd shapes the bottom of a basket. (Alysa Landry)Photo Alt Text: Traditional art

Traditional art

Teacher Keno Zahney works on an acrylic painting.

This story was originally published July 17, 2014 and has been updated.