Sheldon Harvey (Navajo) is a self-taught artist who works in several mediums. This emerging artist, at the cusp of turning thirty, won Best of Class in two categories, painting and sculpture, and took home the esteemed Best of Show 2008 prize for his contemporary painting “Trickster Ways,” a 45″ x 45″ oil on canvas. Harvey was a top prize winner in only his fourth year participating in the Santa Fe Indian Market-after trying for two years to get accepted into Market. Harvey states, “It is a real honor. It’s mind-blowing actually; I thought it would take ten or fifteen years.” Harvey cited R.C Gorman and Dan Namingha as Native artists that he admires for their success and ability to contribute significantly to the canon of Native art. His work is “non-traditional” in appearance and is visually rooted in Modernism with references to Picasso, de Kooning and Kandinsky.
Harvey’s execution and materials are contemporary, but his subject matter is rooted in traditional stories from his childhood in Lukachukai, Arizona which is near the Four Corners area. A fluent speaker of Navajo, Harvey draws from his rich cultural heritage and has developed a vibrant visual language to convey his interpretation of this subject matter. His art is a significant cultural expression of who he is as an artist, a Native, Navajo, and a person living in the twenty-first century. After attending Diné College and studying computer science, Harvey decided to pursue art as a career.
Harvey, who has been making art since his youth and has been devoting a majority of his adult life to being a full-time artist. He says, “I plan on doing this for the rest of my life.” Harvey realizes the importance of the business side of art making and wants to invest in his longevity as an artist by becoming more informed about marketing and promoting his work to a broad audience. He says his long-term goals involve establishing a presence in art markets on both coasts and also internationally. Harvey would like to broaden his horizons and seek new perspectives through cultural exchange with other peoples globally. He expressed an interest in learning more about other cultures while having the opportunity to teach people about Native culture. Harvey may be at the beginning of his career, but he has already garnered critical acclaim and shows promise for becoming a vital presence in Contemporary Native Art.