Best of Show: Tim Washburn Sculpture “Holding Onto Tradition – Looking Forward”
Inaugural Diné College Native American Art Market
12 June 2023
TSAILE, AZ — From June 9-11, 2023, Diné College held a “Native American Art Market” featuring approximately 43 pre-selected artists and musicians from the Navajo Nation and the wider Four Corners region. The market was held in the center of the Diné College campus in Tsaile, Arizona and included Native artists from a wide-variety of genres, including silverwork, basketry, textiles, moccasin-making, painting, pottery, woodwork, and sculpture. The market underscored Diné College’s commitment to Native art and the College as a focal point for generations of Navajo artists in the region. The market is intended to become an annual event at the College and is open to artists from all tribes.
Many of the pre-selected artists frequently participate in the annual Southwest Association for Indian Arts Market in Santa Fe and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in Phoenix. In contrast to these large markets, the Diné College event offered visitors and artists of all ages the opportunity to return “home;” and to sell and purchase art in a serene educational setting. Diné College with its dramatic landscape, focused vision, and committed people represents an inspirational center for many Native artists.
Prior to the two-day market, a juried competition of the art was held at the Ned Hatathli Museum at Diné College. The jurors represented local artists, college professors, and collectors. Hand-made sash ribbons with silver Diné College pendants were distributed to the winners at a public reception on Friday evening June 9. Aaron Begay and Delia Wanueka, alumni from the Navajo Cultural Arts Program at the College, made the one-of-a kind award ribbons. The market and monetary awards were made possible through the Navajo Cultural Arts Program at Diné College; the College President’s Office; and an anonymous donor. The Diné College Native American Art Market was organized by Crystal Littleben, Program Manager of the Navajo Cultural Arts Program and Nonabah Sam, adjunct faculty at the School of Arts & Humanities and museum curator at Diné College.
Best of Show winner Tim Washburn (Diné), from Kirtland, New Mexico, is a sculptor known for his life-like depictions in stone and bronze of traditional Navajo warriors, mothers, children, and grandparents. Washburn was awarded the prize for his sculpture titled “Looking Forward and Holding to Our Traditions” depicting a Navajo grandmother in traditional dress and her young granddaughter who carries a rag doll in one hand and a cell phone in the other. As Washburn summarized his experience of the Diné College Native American Art Market: “The first time for this market has been a huge success … We have the most talented artists in this area. This is Navajo country. The show can only move forward.”
Other first prize winners were Jennifer Curtis (Jewelry and Lapidary); Myron Denetclaw (2-Dimensional Art); Penny Singer (Weaving and Textiles); Darius M. Charley (Diverse Art Forms); Leander Goldtooth (Basketry). Honorable mentions went to the following artists: Cheyenne Grabiec (Jewelry and Lapidary); Bob Lansing (Pottery); Antoinette A. Thompson (2-Dimensional Art); Duwayne Chee, Sr. (Sculpture); Deborah Teller-Tsosie (Weaving and Textiles); Rain Scott (Diverse Art Forms); and Leander Goldtooth (basketry).