gaze upon a sculpture by Larry Yazzie is to allow your
senses to relax. Each piece, no matter its size or subject,
allows ones sight to travel the curved line of concave
and convex space, of subject and non-subject. These figurative
works exhibit both fine detail and suggestive shapes
mirroring equally nature as well as thought.
Multiple award-winning Native
American sculptor Larry Yazzie begins each work without
knowing what it will turn out to be. "The stone
decides itself what it will be as the piece develops," he
"I feel like if you ever get to the place where you
know what you're going to do then it's just a job." One
has only to look at a Yazzie sculpture to know its creation
was not approached as a task to be completed but, instead,
reflects the artist's very being - his feelings, his traditions,
and the honor he strives to return to his Navajo (Diné)
Yazzie works on 7-1/2 riverfront
acres amidst cottonwoods and black walnut trees that
shade his outdoor work area. Sculpting is a labor intensive
and time consuming process involving much noise and dust
as the tools of the trade are employed; work best done
outdoors if an artist can manage it. In order to use
stone – literally a part of the earth – to
support his family and express his talents, Yazzie always
strives to work in harmony with the spirit of the earth.
"In the old days everything
our people made always had a purpose and a reason; and
so, as a Navajo, to now use native designs for artwork
that will only be displayed, there are rules." His
sculptures, most always figurative forms, are dignified,
elegant and stylized; Yazzie likes clean, simplistic
lines and his sculptures have a definite contemporary
feel while also representing the artist's cultural values.
He stays away from realistically reproducing specific
likenesses; this is one of the cultural rules he follows.
His figures always come from his own feelings and from
the stone itself.
"The creator gave me something,
but it comes with a responsibility; as I mature I'm figuring
out more of what that is." For all the noteworthy
pieces Yazzie has created, he doesn't like to think about
having already had a great accomplishment. "I want
to always feel like I'm striving to get better. If I
can educate people about Indian ways, I'll see that as
my great accomplishment."
From eleven inches high to
five and a half feet tall, Yazzie's exquisitely streamlined
sculptures capture and hold ones attention - and draw
ones attention back for further consideration time and