To gaze upon a sculpture by Larry Yazzie is to allow your senses to relax. Each piece, no matter its size or subject, allows one's sight to travel the curved line of concave and convex space, of subject and non-subject. His works, whether stone or bronze, exhibit both fine detail and suggestive shapes mirroring equally nature as well as thought.
Acclaimed Native American sculptor Larry Yazzie graduated with honors from the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe in the mid-1980s. Prominent people recognized his talent early and opened doors for him. Since then, Larry Yazzie has been a consistent award winner at prestigious art shows and his talent has only grown. His sculpture has been shown at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona and in 2019 his works were featured in “Six Navajo Masters” at the Booth Western Art Museum.
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 explains. “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 Larry 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) people.
Sculpting is a labor intensive and time-consuming process made easier only by skilled and experienced hands and heart. In order to use stone – literally a part of the earth – to support his family and express his talents, Larry 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, whether abstract or figurative forms, are dignified, elegant and stylized; Larry 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 Larry 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, the exquisitely streamlined sculptures by Larry Yazzie capture and hold ones attention - and draw ones attention back for further consideration time and again.