In Steven J. Yazzie’s 2014 work Gazer, the artist engages with the character of Coyote, who is pictured sitting in a contemporary living room, gazing out the window—where we see another Coyote wandering through the vegetation. In Diné culture, Coyote is thought of as a trickster, and as the artist states, he is “a revered cultural being whose actions are often seen as a reflection of our own human morality.” By placing Coyote in this constructed human-made space, Yazzie code-switches roles between human and animal. Yazzie encourages the viewer to “consider the coyotes I paint in man-made worlds as liminal creatures, seen wandering throughout vacant interiors of contemporary environments, void of humans in these spaces.” He goes on to share that “Coyote is a determined being on four skinny legs, perhaps taking back the places we often see only as our own.” This painting is accompanied by a collaborative work, Lego-te, which the artist created with his son, Wyatt Yazzie, and is also depicted in Gazer.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
STEVEN J. YAZZIE
Diné, b. 1970
Steven J. Yazzie is a multidisciplinary artist working in video, painting and installation. He is a member of the Navajo Nation and a veteran of the Gulf War, serving honorably with the U.S. Marine Corps. He received a BFA in intermedia at Arizona State University and was named the 2014 Outstanding Graduate of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. He also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Yazzie is the co-founder of Digital Preserve LLC, a video production company collaborating with artists, filmmakers and interdisciplinary creatives to produce meaningful content and stories that highlight Indigenous issues. Yazzie’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at such venues as the Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, the Heard Museum, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art and the Wheelwright Museum.