29: Lesli Yazzie

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29: Lesli Yazzie

After a world's worth of experience in a variety of occupations, Lesli (Englert) Yazzie has officially taken the plunge into oil painting. The South Dakota native has been a waitress, a massage therapist, and a receptionist. She's worked on a horse farm, on home renovations, and in a thrift store. She's moonlighted as a cab driver and has been the proud owner of her very own mauve cubicle.

With the help of trial-and-error, persistence, patience and a few artistic peers, she's now painting full time.

Yazzie lives in the Longhouse Studios in Phoenix with her musician/artist husband, Matt Yazzie. At the studio, they host First and Third Friday art walks where they exhibit a variety of work from local arts and crafts people. If you stop by, you might be able to catch their beagle, Gunner, and their little hairless dog, Moxy Frida Kahlo.

Read more about Yazzie and her artwork after the jump ...

1. List five things on your inspiration wall (real or imagined):

Aside from my curiosity about the human condition, I don't know that I have any sort of mental bulletin board in my head that keeps me motivated. A lot of my work involves some heady concepts, and I just devour any type of information or experience that gives me clues into the human mind. Its seems like every year I have some new subject that I obsess about.

A few years back I was absorbing everything I could about the Bible, organized religions, theology, spirituality, etc. That projected me into a phase where I was seeking all sorts of knowledge on the esoteric plane. For a long while there I was really interested in the afterlife, ghosts, demons, near death experiences. That moved me into a study of sociopaths, serial killers, people responsible for horrific crimes. It sounds really dark but I believe it is important for me to understand both the light and the dark aspects of the human condition in order to be able to more accurately explore and express these values in my paintings.

2. What was your last big project?
My last big project was a monumental painting that I did of The Last Supper. I spent close to two months researching and planning for it prior to starting. I had to do a great deal of research on the 12 apostles, and there is remarkably little information about the individuals themselves. Rather than depict them as men, I used a combination of different animals to represent the characters and personalities of these men. I referred to Native American animal totem lists in order to properly match up each apostle with the type of animal that best represented each individual. It took over a year to paint it, it was 12 feet long, the entire width of my studio.

3. What's your next big project?
I just finished my new website, and that was the latest feather in my cap, so having that completed I'm open to getting back into the studio again. No current big projects in my future at this point. I do a lot of commission paintings, for example I included an image of one, Peter Paul Helga and Cosmo's Family Circus. Anyway, I'll just work on my own paintings until the next thing comes up.

4. Why do you do what you do?
I suppose I felt a calling to paint. I recall a moment when I was leaving an art class in the tenth grade, I was leaving class, and literally the moment I walked through the door into the hallway, I was struck by this epiphany: I want to be an artist, that's what I'm going to be.

It was a simple and powerful moment. It stopped me dead in my tracks actually.  I spent the next 10 years avoiding that epiphany for fear, but eventually when I couldn't shake that nagging and persistent feeling, I pretty much just dove straight in and did it. I worked day and night for years and trained myself without any sort of formal education.

5. What do you want Phoenix to know about you?
An enormous amount of my work is in vignette style, many of them tell stories, ask philosophical questions and contain a lot of irony. They have to be thought out a great deal prior to beginning. When I'm gearing up for a new painting I require a lot of isolation and focus. I rarely draft up a painting before hand, instead I have several pieces of paper taped to the wall next to me containing phrases, words, concepts and ideas, and then I just sit and stare at them and ask myself, "How do I represent these concepts symbolically?"

(And if you're game, what's something you don't want Phoenix to know about you?)
Well, its embarrassing, I don't have any subscriptions to any art magazines. Rather I have a running subscription to Country Woman Magazine. Its super cheesy, but I like that its so bizarrely different from my life, it provides a total escape from my own head. Its my dirty little secret, I have a 5-year stash of them hidden under my bed. That's how cool I am.

The Creatives, so far:

100. Fausto Fernandez
99. Brian Boner
98. Carol Panaro-Smith

97. Jane Reddin
96. Adam Dumper
95. Mayme Kratz
94. Daniel Tantalean
93. Yuri Artibise
92. Lisa Starry
91. Paul Hoeprich
90. Betsy Schneider
89. Mary Shindell
88: Gabriel Utasi
87: Tiffany Egbert
86. Angela Cazel Jahn
85. Dayvid LeMmon
84. Beatrice Moore
83. Michelle J. Martinez
82. Carrie Bloomston
81. Paul Porter
80. Rachel Bess
79. Karolina Sussland
78. Aaron Abbott
77. Mary Lucking
76. Erin Sotak
75. Greg Esser
74. Matthew Mosher
73. Mark Klett
72. Tony Carrillo
71. Paul Morris
70. Joe Pagac
69. Alison King
68. JJ Horner
67. Kim Porter
66. Marco Rosichelli
65. Heather Hales
64. Amy Lamp
63. Kevin Vaughan-Brubaker
62. Lindy Drew
61. Robbie Pfeffer
60. Neil Borowicz
59. Lynn Fisher
58. Tanner Woodford
57. David Tinapple
56. Casebeer
55. Tom Leveen
54. Patti Parsons

53. Tedd McDonah

52. Mike Maas
51. Chris Todd
50. Monica Aissa Martinez
49. Stefan Shepherd

48. Jenny Poon
47. Matt Moore
46. Andrea Hanley
45. Julie Hampton
44. Ted Decker
43. Saskia Jorda
42. Michael Bergfalk
41. Scott Baxter

40. Carrie Marill
39. Kobina Banning
38. Suzanne Falk
37. Jon Haddock
36. Kade Twist
35. Cindy Dach
34. John Wagner
33. Roy Wasson Valle
32. Sue Chenoweth
31. Patricia Colleen Murphy

30. David Quan

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