Approximate Dimensions (without base)
The Edition is as follows:
Artist's Edition - 20
Artist's Proof - 2
Fountry Proof - 2
Record Casting - 1
Total castings - 25
“Cheii” is a timeless representation of Navajo pride, resilience, and gentleness.
It is my first bronze work. It depicts a Navajo man draped in a chief's blanket and wearing a tattered work-worn hat. His hair is tied in a traditional tsii'yéeł [Navajo Bun]. A blanket hugs his shoulders and curves up on the left, framing his face in profile. As you rotate the sculpture, his feeling and mood shift.
In Navajo we have two words for grandfather: Cheii - one’s maternal-grandfather and Nalí - one’s paternal-grandfather. My Navajo heritage and upbringing comes from Shicheii - my grandfather. He was dibé łizhiin, born for Kinyionny. He was a Navajo Code Talker and a primary force in my life and in my art - though this is not a direct representation of him.
If you look closely at his face, you can see two ages: a young man looking forward and an old man with a lifetime of memories. I want this piece to convey the timelessness of our existence as Navajo People: on the one hand, a generation leaving and at the same time a new generation, moving forward. “Cheii” incorporates this and 3 other elements to tell his story: the blanket, the hat and the traditional tsíeł. These combine to show that our traditions and lifestyle not only survive but are alive and changing with the times.
The blanket is representative of our encounter with the Spanish. Spider Woman and Changing Woman brought weaving to the Navajo. When the Spanish came, they brought Iberian sheep which greatly influenced our weaving and from which the Navajo Churro sheep are descended. The pattern is of an early Chief’s Blanket, a turning point in Navajo weaving.
The hat represents our encounters with the United States and our current status as US citizens since the treaty of 1868. As the United States expanded west, the reservations were formed. The American Cowboy hat replaced that of the Mexican Gaucho and is commonplace.
The tsii'yeeł is the traditional hair style of Navajo men and women. Boarding schools forced us to cut our hair. Today, many serve in the US military and cut their hair, but many grow it back in later years. If not their hair, they wear turquoise or silver - protection. In this way they keep a connection to our traditions.
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