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Moving back to rez was turning point for Diné artist


Courtesy photo
Navajo artist Jonathan Curley started his journey into the art world just five years ago but has since won numerous awards and recognition for his work.

“Our art is sacred,” Jonathan Curley said.

This is how Curley, a painter, views Native art as a whole. “It’s a sacred form of art that is developed by us,” he said during a phone interview. “I can’t replicate a second piece … it will not come out the same way. For some reason I cannot replicate an identical piece.”

Through all of his accomplishments Curley has continued to feel humble and honored. “The Holy Ones blessed me with this great talent,” he said. And he remembers this every time a gallery reaches out him about displaying his art or people purchase his pieces. He works primarily in acrylic and aerosol spray paint.

Curley’s art is vibrant, bright and warm. It’s a mix of traditional designs with a contemporary twist. His signature style often includes a hummingbird, which represents good thoughts to him.

“There are times when I do struggle in my studio,” Curley said. “I’ll talk to my brushes and paints and my canvas and be like, ‘Okay, let me know when you’re ready to paint.’”

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About The Author

Pauly Denetclaw

Pauly Denetclaw is Meadow People born for Towering House People. She was raised in Manuelito and Naschitti, New Mexico. She was the co-recipient of the Native American Journalist Association's 2016 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting. Denetclaw is currently finishing her degree in multimedia journalism from the University of New Mexico - Main. Denetclaw covers a range of topics including genetic research, education, health, social justice issues and small businesses. She loves coffee, writing and being with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her handle is @pdineclah