Leading up to this year's Big Brain Awards, we're checking in with past winners. Up today: Thomas Greyeyes.
Thomas Greyeyes won a Big Brain Award in 2012 for his art, which explores his Native American identity and how it collides with life in Phoenix. Since winning, he's continued pulling his Navajo culture into his creative endeavors, pursuing activist work, digging into history, and taking his work to a larger audience.
See also: Announcing the 2014 Big Brain Finalists
What have you been up to since winning a Big Brain Award? Since I was inducted into Honor the Treaties art collective I have been busy organizing propaganda projects on my reservation. It's important to me and the activist work is never ending. The collective collaborates with Native advocacy groups to bring these issues to a larger audience. Check out our work at honorthetreaties.org.
I also applied to grad school and it's looking strong that I'll be moving out to the Bay in the summer. I'm excited about getting back into school. Living as a struggling artist these past few years hardened me and made me ready for such a commitment.
I also recently had a show with the University of Denver based on the Sand Creek Massacre. Some very intense history and trauma is brought up. I worked on some pieces converging that history with Navajo people's trauma during the long walk. I suck at updating my work but it can be viewed on my blog: greyeyesart.tumblr.com.
What's your next big project? I have some murals lined up on the untold legacy of uranium mining and its impact, especially on water. For me and many Navajo people it brings up painful memories. My paternal grandfather passed away due to stomach cancer. The cancer rates are so high on the reservation and its connected to contaminated drinking sources.
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A few other things are in the works, but I tend to keep my projects to myself.
Where do you see Phoenix a year from now? Honestly I don't know where I see Phoenix a year from now. Breeze and his Paint PHX project killed it! More murals are happening and to see this continue and grow will be interesting. I love gallery spaces like the Hive. They have a great community of creative people. Their vibe is just right in fostering the art community. As a politically based artist I hope to see more ARTIVISM and politically charged work. We're in such a critical time and there isn't enough dialogue pushing social change.
Where do you see yourself a year from now? New Zealand hanging with the Maori