Navajo painter Peterson Yazzie is from Greasewood Springs, Arizona. His clans are Naakai Din’e (Mexican Clan), Honanghaanii (One Who Walks Around), Kinlicheenie (Red House), and Ma’iideeshgeezhnii (Coyote Pass). He was born in 1979. He graduated from Holbrook high school. He is currently enrolled at The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. (I.A.I.A.) where he is working towards his Associate of Arts Degree with a major in 2-Dimensional Art.
Yazzie started art during his junior year in high school, while taking a Southwest Art class from Don Whitesinger (a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and I.A.I.A.). He found that he had talent in art and that he could express himself through his art. Although Yazzie receives a lot of encouragement from his family and relatives, the two people who helped him the most with his art were Don Whitesinger and his uncle Raymond Yazzie (also a graduate of I.A.I.A. &1998 Gallup Ceremonial Poster Artist). He says that if it weren’t for them he would have never found his talent.
Although he does sculpture, he usually works in 2-dimensional painting and drawing. He works in pencil, pen & ink, watercolors, acrylics, and mixed mediums. He hopes to begin working with oils in the near future.
Although he is young, Yazzie has already won numerous awards for his art. His honors include Best of Show, Northland Pioneer College Art Show; Most Outstanding Achievement Award, ’97 Heard Museum Student Art Show; 1999 Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial Poster Contest Winner; 1st Runner-up for 2001 Gallup Ceremonial Poster Contest; 2001 White Mountain Native American Arts Festival Poster Contest Winner; and Best of Fine Arts Division for 2000 Navajo Market Place at Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.
“Art is a way for me to express thoughts, beliefs, interests and feelings. In today’s society people talk about how we as Native Americans are losing our culture and traditional values, so I paint to keep the things that are important to us Natives alive. I only hope that I can inspire others to try and learn more about their culture and traditions through my art.” — Peterson Yazzie