When I came home from my mission I grabbed the first job I could find. That ended up being at Jacob Lake Inn in Arizona. I had never heard of the place before that point in my life, and I was in for an eye opener.
It was my first real exposure to Indian culture and art, as well as the Grand Canyon. I'd never even been to Arizona before. I had pictured it full of cactus and barren deserts. Boy was I surprised. Jacob Lake Inn is right at a junction in the highway to either the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, or south toward Flagstaff and the rest of Arizona. Jacob Lake is also on the top of a mountain...so they get snow. Lots of snow. I was in heaven.
Anyway -- they have a gift shop at the Inn, where they sell everything from Indian jewelry to hand woven rugs. The work is amazing. The pottery is gorgeous and I was very impressed with what I saw. One of the things that fascinated me was their Sand Art, or sand paintings.
These paintings are such works of art. I purchased a small one and brought it home with me, along with a small piece of pottery -- unfortunately anything larger was way out of my price range, but they are worth every bit charged for them.
There is sand art that you can make with your kids, involving different colored sand that you pour into a jar, (this site shows it being done--it's way cool) but this is more like a craft which involves glue and sand on paper.
In my research on Native American sand art, I have heard that it was a way of chasing away evil spirits, keeping nightmares away, and also part of the medicine man's healing.
Veronica Begay is the artist of this amazing piece, called Pollen Boy on Sun. I think the blues are eye catching, and are a different touch.
I can't explain exactly the way I feel in looking at their art work. It's so unlike any other medium. It captures a feeling of rural wilderness and yet a simple beauty unlike any other. It's refined, it's delicate and it's amazing.
This piece by Wallace Ben show's painstaking patience in developing each line, each color. I wish these artists had web sites that you could learn more about them, but apparently they tend to be private people, without much presence except for their art.
If you ever get a chance to visit that area of the world, you should. There are wonders and amazing things to behold and witness. You'll be impressed.
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