Eugene Baatsoslanii Joe

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    Eugene Baatsoslanii Joe
    Navajo sandpainter, Eugene Baatsoslanii Joe was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, NM. While in early boarding school, Eugene’s teachers encouraged him to sketch, which sparked a lifelong interest for the arts. During summers back home, Eugene spent his time exploring nature and listening to older Navajos at the trading post tell fascinating tales of Navajo life. His grandfather in particular taught him the the art of living in the traditional Navajo way, and named Eugene “Baatsoslani,” meaning “many feathers” due to Eugene’s expansive collection of feathers.

    In 1962, his father, James C. Joe began making sandpaintings and two years later, Eugene became his apprentice. At one time a Medicine Man, James understood his talent as a gift from God. He became well known for his unique sandpaintings, and he refined techniques for grinding the sandstones and sifting grains. James even created an adhesive solution to use in the paintings to preserve the art for longer periods of time. As Eugene walked in his father’s footsteps, he learned every detail of the sandpaintings’ cultural significance.

    In 1967 Eugene met Edwin Foutz, owner of Shiprock Trading Post, who bought some of his first paintings and encouraged his creativity in contemporary sandart. After a six-year apprenticeship under his father, Eugene began to develop his own style, seeking expression in sand, different from any other artist: a sand artist creating in contemporary modes the beauty of the ancient. Today, only a fraction of his work is considered traditional sandpainting. He said he changes the design to protect his religion, while also bringing to life the traditions and surroundings of his people.

    Eugene has received special awards and recognition at many art shows. His work is in the top galleries of the Southwest. His paintings take on the reality of rich oils, and admirers are amazed to find this type of perfection in sandpaintings. Eugene reflects: “I don’t compete with others. I only compete with myself. Art is a vision that expresses the future and tells a story. My art speaks for me. I don’t need to talk about myself. I will die with sand in my hands.”
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