Wallace Begay Traditional Navajo Artist Public Interview

Navajo artist Wallace Begay is well respected in the Native American art community. Wallace is extremely intelligent and connected to the old ways. He takes his time to share with us a little of his background. We had the opportunity to meet with him in downtown Gallup, New Mexico where he had painted a memorial years before. Please respect the traditional ways of the Navajo people. Follow us for more videos in the future.

My name is Wallace Begay. Navajo an artist I paint sculpture, I write I been working on a Novel. I do some poetry. I have studied at Arizona State University and University of Arizona where I resigned right now but I am originally from Tolani Lake, Arizona which is near loop just east of Flagstaff near the Hopi reservation lion. The Hopi fan is just a few yards from my house.

I was born in the fifties, late fifties and during that time when I was born they had this program they call it total immersion. It is to do with your language and they took us to boarding school. A real vicious trump period in my life where suddenly from the innocence you are thrown into the madness. I thought of gangs of children who were corrupted and they hurt each other and they beat each other. I learned how to fight. I fought my way through. I became good at it. I knew how to hurt people. But during that time I was introduced to art. Simple pencil drawing. There is a really smart art teacher that saw the potential of who I could be as an artist and I started to find it as my path in this world.

When I was a little boy maybe 5, we had these boards, these old 2 by 12 boards that made up a shed. Beautiful surface in that. I used to get charcoal from the fire that that was burning because I didn’t had a pencil. So I used to get a piece of charcoal and I would draw on these boards. What I drew was the comic books that I used to get, the raw eyed kid two gun kid. Those images that I saw I tried to do it that way. So life for me in that sense was like that. I am of the generation that still has the language, some knowledge of mythology, ceremonies, the family, the home place, the work ethic.

All these things I still have that. And now when I go around and visit my little ones my little relatives they look up to me and I am in trouble uncle. I am flirting with disaster I don’t know how to express myself. I don’t know how to live in the metro. I need a place to go home to. I need a place to find security. Will you be there? Will you save me? So this journey how we are meeting here now going around here visiting people here in Gallup. I have to visit my brother up in – Mexico and so its part of that. Some go back to my home place Tolani Lake.

Tomorrow my house is in disrepair got to fix it up, repair the store. – these little ones are gonna come home to see who am I. Where do I come from? I want to stand there for them and say this is from where you come from. Come home and find security and rest, make some fruit cup, run around and play. That’s what I want in my life.