David K. John

David K. John, Diné (Navajo) Arizona

"Paint from your heart; don't just go along with the latest fad. Your art will last longer." David K. John has lived his own words, working from his own inspiration, creating paintings based on Navajo mythology and stories.

Communicating a quiet spirituality that speaks universally, his unique expressions are becoming  widely recognized and admired.

Raised by his great grandfather, David grew up hearing the stories and teachings of his homeland. In his art, he expresses his own interpretations of his childhood learning with the utmost care and respect. He has won many awards for his paintings and masks, including awards at the Intertribal Ceremonial in Gallup and the Santa Fe Indian Market.

A sense of peace impacts admirers of David's paintings. Soft-spoken and humble, he adored his Grandfather, a medicine man who instilled profound, spiritual beliefs in the young Diné. David pent much of his childhood attending healing events-from seasonal rituals to sand painting ceremonies where he often participated and was instructed by the most revered members of his culture.

Making no excuses for his spirituality, David is specific about his use of color. Like most native American tribes, the Dine associate particular colors with the four directions: yellow-the west, white- the east, turquoise-the south, and black- the north.

David's characteristic messenger is the Yei Be Chei, an ethereal messenger to the Diné. Since exact replication of the sacred icon is taboo, he modifies the image to the satisfaction of his tribe's spiritual leaders. According to collectors, the alteration does not affect the impact of the painting's message.

David believes passing on strong teachings is critical to a better future. He instructs his son and daughter in the teachings he was given. At the same time, he encourages them to understand and use 21st century technology, and both are now carrying on his tradition by creating and selling their own artwork.