A Posting by Ty Draper
Emerging Artisan, Moccasin Maker, NCAC Cohort 2016/17
I had the privilege to meet so many diverse, talented, and hardworking people. One of those influential individuals was Harry Walters, my mentor in this journey of cultural refinement and the instructor for our moccasin cohort. From the creation stories to the creation of the moccasins, he detailed his teachings from tradition. So much so, that in addition to meeting at the College, we also had classes taught right at his home in Red Valley, Az. I remember the first time being there. There was a calm essence when we arrived, welcomed by the warmth of the sun, in the midday of the winter season. The scent of cedar and juniper trees filled the air. As the day went on we visited different parts of his summer and winter camps. The stories of his grandparents and generations before them ignited the scenery. The crowded memories of the past engulfed our curious minds. The knowledge of different invasions of the Spanish and Europeans allowed us to gain a new perspective of the land. This taught us about respecting our craft and to be thankful for our gifts.
The opportunities that this program supplies, including the carefully chosen instructors such as Mr. Walters, have had profound effects on me as an artist. I have gained so much from the traditional concepts and as well as the contemporary ones. Initially, being a part of the Fine Arts Studies, I developed a yearning for the cultural arts. I found that within our Navajo history, much of our art is undocumented history, meaning that much of it remains within the realm of oral histories. Now that I have a better understanding of both the contemporary and the cultural arts, I would like to innovate the teachings of the past and bring those concepts and practices to the future of our creations. In other words, NCAP has enabled the contemporary artist, such as myself, to reconnect with the techniques of the past. My creations frequently include the color “blue.” It represents turquoise and in the Navajo stories “turquoise” represents the blue world and different stages in life. There is always a meaning behind the development of my artwork.
“Mother Earth and Father Sky guided me through my craftsmanship. The essence of duality exist in all of us, we all come from a female and male embodiment. We should not overshadow one over the other. Having the traits that are passed down through each generation is something we as “Diné” hold sacred, our gifts ignite our spirit.” –Ty Powers Draper