Tribal Affiliation: Navajo
Robert was raised in Cow Springs, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation in the northwestern portion of Arizona. As he grew up, his parents educated him in the traditional culture and prayers of the Navajo. Parents and grandparents, alike, offer the knowledge to understand ceremonies and prayers. As a young Navajo in a rural area, he began to express these teachings through the art of painting.
Art is a cornerstone of Navajo life, from traditional basket making to weaving of rugs, to painting. Navajo artistry resembles the story of Navajo origins since the beginning of creation and the continuing of life. Influences of maintaining or expressing such art, visually or orally, are cultivated from the history of family origins.
Robert’s paintings reflect the sacred ceremonies of the Nine Day Winter Ceremony and the Yei Be Chei. The masked figures in these paintings are of the Ye ‘iis (the Holy People) that dance and chant the prayers throughout the night to bring good health and harmony back to our lives. Other items in his paintings reflect sacred objects of the Navajo ranging from the landscape itself, to baskets, to turquoise, to rattles and drums. Most of all, the symbols of his paintings represent the everyday life of the Navajo and the sanctity of walking in beauty. Robert’s main focus is to express this to the world to understand the Navajo way of life from one perspective.
Early in his career, Robert painted murals on school walls and gym floors at the same time winning prizes and selling his paintings at local art shows. Today he is focused on creating special orders and exhibiting at art shows and events.