Peterson Yazzie


“My art is informed by my personal experiences and surroundings, through process and experimentation. I approach each piece with an open mind; I find art more exciting if it guides me. Life is filled with positive and negative energies; I find creativity is my key to maintaining balance. Art continues to connect me with amazing people throughout the world, I am forever thankful.”

Art has been a path of learning for Navajo artist Peterson Yazzie. His remarkable talent was recognized in junior high school then nurtured and rewarded with a wealth of scholarships upon graduation. Yazzie attended the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe receiving an Associate of Fine Arts Degree (2002) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (2004); he was then accepted into the University of New Mexico’s competitive graduate program in Albuquerque where he earned his Master of Fine Arts Degree in 2008. Peterson Yazzie was the first in his immediate clan to be a painter and to earn a Master’s Degree and has been the Two-Dimensional Art instructor at Northland Pioneer College in Holbrook Arizona since 2011.

Peterson Yazzie embraces the Navajo idea that life is based on beauty and balance. Certain motifs appear and reappear on his canvases: Hummingbirds, symbols of the four directions, the moon, stars and images of the two adjoining buttes that tower over his ancestral homeland are often featured. Painting with acrylic, and many times adding sand for additional texture, Yazzie brings a contemporary interpretation to the creation mythology, ceremonies and day-to-day life of his Navajo people. The paintings of Peterson Yazzie literally start with a splash of paint sparked by an idea; the rest is completed with intuition and experimentation.

For the “Yei wall sculptures” that Peterson Yazzie creates he uses found cottonwood, carving them, painting them with acrylic and adorning them with natural exotic (legal) feathers.

From Arizona to Vermont his work, with its hints of Cubism and Surrealism, has been applauded. He has been honored by the Eitejorg and Wheelwright museums and repeatedly by the Santa Fe Indian Market. Peterson Yazzie has won numerous awards from prestigious art shows such as the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ; Southwest Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA); Arizona State Museum; and the Museum of Northern Arizona, among others.