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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Navajo Nation artist to speak at museum

    Trends from the Southwest have shown up as the hip look of the season in years past. Remember decorative moccasins? For some, however, art of the Southwest, particularly American Indian art, is not just trendy; it is a lifestyle.

    In celebration of the work done by American Indian artists of the area, the Arizona State Museum is inviting more than 200 artists to show and sell their work at their 12th annual Southwest Indian Art Fair.

    Carol Chiago Lujan, an associate professor of American Indian studies at ASU, has been chosen as the featured artist for this year’s fair. A member of the Navajo Nation, Lujan comes from lineage that specializes in rug weaving, but she has gone her own way by being involved in creating clay work.

    “”I just got really into working with clay. Since then I have been doing it as a hobby, but I guess now it is really my passion,”” Lujan said. “”I like making masks and figurative sculpture: people, faces, different things. I like clay because it is flexible and can be easily molded.””

    Lujan said her masks are inspired by the masks used in traditional ceremonies from tribes within the Navajo Nation. From there she adds another layer to her work: color.

    “”When I started working with clay, I thought it was limited, then I started looking at colors,”” Lujan said. “”I love brilliant colors.””

    Along with painting her masks, Lujan also adorns them with feathers, which just happen to be both pretty and free.

    “”Nature is just incredible,”” Lujan said. “”I don’t have to buy artificial colored feathers. I enjoy putting it all together””

    On top of working in both the academic and artistic worlds, Lujan has also been very much involved in politics on a national scale. Under the Clinton administration, Kevin Gover, secretary of Indian affairs, selected Lujan to be the head of education in American Indian countries throughout the United States.

    “”I was able to visit Native American countries across the country and see all the incredible things they do with so little money,”” Lujan said. “”We usually hear all the negative things about Native American people as opposed to the positive.””

    Having gained an insight to what really goes on within the walls of 1600 Peninsula Ave., Lujan feels that she has closed the chapter of her political life.

    “”You know how they say, ‘you’ll never eat sausage again if you see how it was made,’ it’s the same in politics,”” Lujan said. “”But it was a great experience.””

    With her political life over, however, Lujan has had more time to focus on her artistic life. She showed her work last year at the Southwest Indian Art Fair and is honored to be invited back.

    “”To me it’s just a thrill to be selected as the feature artist in something I just love,”” Lujan said.

    The Southwest Indian Art Fair will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Arizona State Museum. Admission is $8 for adults, $3 for children (12-16), $12 for two-day passes, children 11 and under are free, UA and Pima students are free with school I.D. and discounts are available for Arizona State Museum members. Food and entertainment will also be available.

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