"David Johns is a seer, and he comes very honestly by that gift. In his remarkable artwork, he enables us to see as well. His gift becomes our gift. Here is the essential spirit of creation." - N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer-prize-winning author.
Vibrant in color and rich in texture, the paintings of David Johns not only dazzle the eye, but also touch the soul. To see one of his paintings, be it abstract or portrait, is to gain a vision of the world into which he was born and to see the world as he perceives it.
David Johns was born in 1948 near Seba Dalkai, a remote desert region of northern Arizona. This land is part of the vast territory that his people, the Dine (Navajo), have lived in since the beginning of time. As a child, David spent many hours with his grandmother herding sheep through their land, as the Dine have done for generations before his time. During these years, she passed on to David the teachings her grandparents gave to her. She taught him how to respect and care for the land, plants, and animals who enable the Dine to live. She told him many of the stories and legends which explains how the Dine came to be and where his parents clans originated. From her and the other elders in his family he learned that all things in the world have male and female counterparts and that life exists because of this delicate balance. From his childhood on, he learned to live according to the Dine Way: to strive for balance, beauty and harmony in all aspects of life.
David received formal training in fine arts from the Northern Arizona University, earning a Bachelor's Degree in 1982. His work combine that training with the traditional teachings he learned as a child and the Dine philosophy of life by which he lives. The symmetry of David's paintings reflect this harmony and balance; the colors and textures he creates reflect the beauty of the land from which he comes. His abstract paintings express his sense of the world around him by capturing life's subtle phenomenon such as the sunlight at different times of the day or the emotions brought by each of the four seasons. His masterful portraits display the vitality of the Dine people. He explains that all of his choices of color and composition come forth from a place deep within himself. And yet he sees his talent as coming from beyond himself and considers it a gift to be shared with everyone. His work continues to receive praise from his community, and in 1997, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Northern Arizona University.
The care and attention that David devotes to his painting mirror the ties that strengthen his family. David's wife, Gloria, shares with him a love for the Dine tradition. They have been committed to passing their traditions on to their four exceptionally talented children and are also passing the teachings on to their grandchildren. To see the paintings of David Johns is to witness the heart of this man, his family and the traditions of his people.
"My Creation on paper or canvas do not come from a place of preconception. They come from the inner most chambers of my soul. The essence of what I am is a spiritual being. I am a Dine (Navajo) man of the Tl'aashchi'i clan and born for the Kinyaa'aanii clan. Even as I write it, it feels like I am saying a prayer. Everything I am and do I hope comes from a place of harmony. If my mind, body and spirit are in balance then I can produce an image which reflects my truth. I hope my abstractions are ways for the observers to feel the essence of my inner self; not to get caught up in the distractions of outer appearances. It is not the form that touches our deepest longings but rather the story my images evoke in the viewer. This is the ultimate impact of my art."
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