Photography
© Ely Abrums and Laura Walker

Raymond Naha, Hopi Pueblo

(Hopi, 1933-1974) Ray Naha’s participation in the American Indian art scene began in the mid- twentieth century, following some of Hopi’s most prodigious painters including Fred Kabotie (Born 1900) and Otis Polelonema (Born 1902).

Naha’s work reflects remarkable detail, and his paintings depict a beautiful study of the masks, costumes, jewelry, body paint and paraphernalia of Native dancers. Regalia dressing of each figure was entirely authentic.  As his compositions ranged from loose and scattered arrangements to tight, closed lines of dancers, it is difficult to ascribe a chronological sequence to his works. Unlike many artists of his time, humor can often be found in Naha’s work — one painting depicts a pair of tumbling dancers whose moccasin soles show holes in them.

Naha’s subject matter was traditional, depicting scenes of both ceremony and struggles in Hopi life, all the while adding modeling to his figures and advanced perspective techniques. Naha’s play of light and shading injected even his most comedic narratives with a strong sense of drama…

Although he preferred to work in casein, Naha also  produced works in oils, pastels, inks and acrylics. His favorite subjects were Hopi and Zuni kachinas and ceremonies. He often used black or dark paper as his brushes tended to be on the dark side.

Some of the many awards Naha received include: First award at the Philbrook Show on two occasions; Indian Arts Fund Award in Santa Fe; Bimson Grand Award at the Scottsdale National and First awards at different Gallup Ceremonials. He is cited in The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters by Patrick D. Lester, The St. James Guide to Native North American Artists, American Indian Painting by Dorothy Dunn and Southwest Indian Painting by Clara Lee Tanner.

 

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