"As Indian people, we're quite good at making our world beautiful. But this disease isn't pretty and we don't seem to be reacting to the ugliness. We've sugar-coated the issue so we can continue to eat and drink products that are heavily processed and sugar-laden. These things are killing us and our future generations. I just wanted to expose that...to expose the truth." -Marwin Begaye
Marwin Begaye, a professional artist since 1990, has exhibited his work nationally and internationally and is included in many private, public and corporate collections. His formal art education includes studies at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico and the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma where he received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Printmaking. A member of the Navajo Nation, he feels the act of communicating through marks, words and colors is as traditional an art as weaving.
Marwin incorporates computer generated imagery and experimental mixed-media painting into his repertoire of tools. The exploration of imagery that promotes a visual awareness of diabetes, a national epidemic that is heavily impacting Indian America-including members of his immediate family, has provided Begaye with a seemingly endless repository of inspiration that allows him to incorporate satire and realism into images from his childhood and imagination. In his image making, both computer-generated and painted, Marwin strives to maintain accountability to family and community. He believes that stereotyped images of Native people are damaging and that fighting them with reality based subjects is an important goal in all his corporate and fine art.
Though his primary effort is in making images, he regularly makes commitments to teach art to youth and has been a guest lecturer on native culture, contemporary native art and printmaking processes. "This body of work is intended to increase awareness about the epidemic of Diabetes in our community. I hope that the viewer will see their own actions are complicit in this disease. As a graphic artist, I've used a variety of media to communicate this message on many levels. Each of us has responsibility to make healthy choices. The woodblock, oil and water based paints/inks seem to be the right medium from which to create images that explore the impact on the American Indian community. The stark graphic quality of the woodblock and the black ink has an old-school look for the contemporary message and allows the message to be clear. These are black and white reflections of the impact of our poor tobacco, food and drink choices. We make these choices daily and rarely do we evaluate the choice on its effect. But the choices have an effect...one that is deadly."
As a graphic designer, Begaye concentrates primarily on print materials, which include corporate logo development, promotional materials, and event specific informational items. He is known for translating client ideas into contemporary images that are multi-functional. Begaye chooses digital images to create posters that exploit the colorful and bold nature of advertising. "When developing these images," he explains, "I wanted to match the visual quality of advertising with which we are bombarded. I want the viewer to recognize it and then to notice that it is no longer the same message. This kind of work is called "Culture Jamming," where icons of our American culture are turned on themselves." The images may cause some discomfort because they portray a truth and will provoke you to think about your lifestyle. At the same time, they are a message of empowerment. We can take control of our future. We can choose to make positive lifestyle changes. Awareness is a beginning.
Through December 30, 2006 artwork may be purchased by contacting the Oklahoma Indian Arts and Crafts Cooperative located in the Southern Plains Indian Museum-405-247-3486. After December 30, 2006 contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org