Jason Parrish, Diné Painter

Jason Parrish is an artist from the Navajo Nation. In the Navajo clan family, he is Dzil T’aanii (Near the Mountain People) and born for To’dichii’nii (Bitter Water People). Parrish’s birthplace is Gallup, NM to Winona Bitsie and the late Joe F. Parrish. He has one younger brother, Joshua. Parrish is a painter who mainly works with water-based paints.  Raised on the Navajo Nation in Tohatchi, NM, Parrish was surrounded with Native art throughout his life. After graduating from Gallup High School in 2003, Parrish went to the University of New Mexico and studied History until 2007. After finishing college, Parrish worked in finance at a bank in Gallup, NM until he realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do. So, he left his job in banking and pursued a career as a full-time professional artist.

His artistic process began as a child during summers spent with his late grandmother Alice Bitsie in Tohatchi, who always had crayons, pencils, and reams of paper on hand. What was playtime with these artistic tools soon developed into a love for painting and drawing. Painting became the focus of summers between school years until he stopped completely in 2003 after high school graduation. Parrish left home and studied History and English at the University of New Mexico.

After college, Parrish returned home and took a job in banking and started to paint again, but only as a hobby, usually during vacation periods away from the bank. As painting sales increased and awards began flowing in, Parrish left his banking job to paint professionally. Now, Parrish’s paintings are shown and sold in shows around the world. Parrish participates in top shows including the Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Guild Indian Art Market, American Indian Arts Marketplace in Los Angeles, and the Salon du Dessin et Peinture a L'Eau (Art Capital) in Paris, France.

Dinetah (Navajo land) is his primary source of inspiration for his culturally rich subject matter. His paintings directly respond to his surrounding environment and uses personal experiences as a starting point. The majority of his subject matter is centered around Navajo culture. Stories, ceremony, and lifestyle are a constant presence in his pieces. Each painting not only serves an aesthetic purpose but is a chance to present framed instances of Navajo life both traditional and modern.  By examining the beauty and importance of his Navajo culture, Parrish takes the viewer into a world they may never knew existed. 

His art is characterized by vibrant colors, immaculate brushwork, and is now categorized as just outside the boundary of Native American Traditional Painting Style. The style often referred to as Native American Traditional was pioneered by Native American students of the Dorothy Dunn School in 1930’s Santa Fe. Parrish says he was inspired by Navajo artists Harrison Begay, Quincy Tahoma, Robert Chee, and Gerald Nailor, all early masters of the style.

Jason uses a historical approach to his painting, focusing on the Diné people and the Navajo world during the period of 1890 - 1945, in a unique style of minimalism within contemporary realism. Raven Makes Gallery was honored to have hosted Jason's first show in the Pacific Northwest in April of 2018.