Father and son make their mark on art world

PRESCOTT— Although Lance Yazzie has made amazing marks in the Native American world of sculpture at the ripe old age of 24, he’ll be the first to admit that he had a head start—his master teacher is his father, Larry Yazzie.

The elder Yazzie is known throughout the art world for his own sculptures, winning awards from the Heard Museum, Santa Fe Indian Market and the Museum of Northern Arizona. He and his son, who have their sculptures displayed at numerous shows together, are now showing at the Phippen Museum in Prescott as part of the “Arizona History through Art: The Navajo Tribe, an Untold Story.”

“It’s neat to be in the same shows as my dad. A lot of artists are in competition, but when we go, we go as a team. That’s the way we want to keep it,” says Lance.

The exhibit displays Navajo and Navajo-related artwork, including bronzes, jewelry, paintings, photographs, pottery, sandpaintings and weavings that reflect important events in Navajo history during the past 200 years. The artwork addresses low points such as the Long Walk, but also displays the contributions Navajos made to American society, like the Navajo Code talkers role in World War II.

Other artists whose works appear in the show include Perry Wilson, David Johns, T.B. Yazzie, Harrison Begay, Ed Whitethorne, Nelson Tsosie, Joe Ben, Jr., and Leroy Begay, Jr. Diné College and the Chinle and Ganado school districts also contributed to the exhibit.

Larry Yazzie has a bronze sculpted eagles displayed at the Phippen exhibit. Lance has a bronze sculpture of two women with their heads attached back-to-back, signifying the connection between his mother and grandmother. One head has bronze feathers, which symbolizes the passing down of tradition. The other head has a coral bead necklace.

Lance’s other piece is a stone-cut bear created out of carrea marble, which comes from Italy. He started his stone- cut work when he was 13, working on bear forms because he found them easier than human ones.

“But I’ve since learned that bears mean strength and signify strengthening the family,” he said. “I only recently grew into it. I didn’t know what it meant.’

As the oldest of eight boys, he remembers growing up in the shop where his dad worked on his sculptures. But while his dad is his main teacher, Yazzie says he finds inspiration for his art in different places.

“It might be from my mom saying something or from something an elder says at a ceremony,” he says.

To inquire about Lance Yazzie’s works, call him at (520) 759-2344.

Larry Yazzie uses modern methods and creative art forms in his art, and advises aspiring artists to try new things. “A lot of artists follows what’s been done, but they should push the envelope to try unique arts forms and one of a kind pieces that can compete with European artists,” he said.

Yazzie is a member of the Bitterwater and Edgewater clans. His work can continue to be seen at the Turquoise Turtle Gallery in Sedona (520-282-2262), or the Lovena Ohl Gallery in Scottsdale (800-609-8889).

The Phippen exhibit will run through April 22. For more information, call (520) 778-1385.

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