The University of Arizona

Arizona State Museum, University of ArizonaVisions and Voices

A Contemporary American Indian Portrait Exhibit

Jolene Tallsalt: charcoal drawing

Jolene Tallsalt

I'd describe my cultural identity as Navajo. Since childhood, I've always had a strong connection with my family. Both sides, on my father's and my mother's side, have always been very traditional. Both have practiced our cultural religion and I've grown up with that respect. I've known nothing else in my life except the importance of family unity and Navajo spirituality and respect.  

As a hydrologist, I am very concerned about the environment. We live in such a beautiful environment but it's rapidly deteriorating. I loved growing up in a clean environment. I was always outside and with animals. It was wonderful; I believe that shaped me into being an environmentally conscious person and a happy person. I want the same for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  

Art should be progressing and it's a shame that people who call themselves "Artist" or "Contemporary Artist" still portray Natives as feather-wearing, poverty-stricken beings. They fail to show our doctors, lawyers, counselors, and engineers. As Native Americans, we are survivors. Our grandfathers and grandmothers (great, great...) were able to endure the racial discrimination and horrible attempts to take our culture away. Yet we still have our traditions with us to this day. I'm thankful as an individual to possess the cultural beliefs, stories, and language I acquired through the teachings of my grandparents and parents.

Tribal affiliation:  Navajo

Image size:  16" x 20"   Medium:  Graphite

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