Steven Yazzie is a Native American (Navajo Nation) artist who lives in Arizona. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before pursuing painting through residency at the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and is currently pursuing his BFA in painting from the University of Arizona. Although this review focuses exclusively on Yazzi’s Coyote Series, he has an extensive body of work that ranges between abstraction and surrealism, incorporating an interest in pattern, shape, the Southwestern landscape, and Navajo culture and history.
Yazzi’s paintings question the relationship between man and nature, and between interior and exterior spaces. Elements of the wilderness and the playful trickster Coyote are placed alongside modern, minimalist domestic spaces; several paintings even reference the ultimate minimalist establishments – the gallery space – drawing from principles (if not necessarily the practice) of Institutional Critique.
Looking closer, all of his interiors are symbolically suggestive of their original elements – an animal printed ottoman, stone colored couch, grassy rug, unprocessed lumber table, and landscape paintings adorning the walls all mimic the desert landscape to which they are adjacent; the coyote must still feel somewhat at home within these fused environments.
Among his many achievements, Yazzi has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Museum of the American Indian, New York, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe, NM. Phoenix Art Museum, Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Art, and the Museum of Northern Arizona and has been featured in the 2011 West issue of New American Paintings.