Joe Ben Jr.

sand paintings

Joe Ben Jr. was born and raised in Shiprock, New Mexico. He first learned the traditional Navajo art of sandpainting from his father at age twelve.

Ben aspires to bring this art form to the wider world. He creates all of his own pigments out of materials from the earth such as Lapis …

Joe Ben Jr. was born and raised in Shiprock, New Mexico. He first learned the traditional Navajo art of sandpainting from his father at age twelve.

Ben aspires to bring this art form to the wider world. He creates all of his own pigments out of materials from the earth such as Lapis from Afghanistan, Galena from Morocco and diamond from Australia to name a few. Not to mention the natural reds and browns found in the earth on the Hopi and Navajo reservations near his birthplace. An extensive traveler, Ben collects sand from each place he visits and uses that sand in his art.

Ben has taught sandpainting at the School of Fine Arts in Paris and the School of Fine Arts in Grenoble, and his work is exhibited worldwide. In 1995, Ben was one of 60 artists invited to create a work in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations at their European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Sand was a fitting medium for that project, as sandpainting exemplifies the Navajo concepts of balance and order. In Joe Ben Jr.'s words sand: "Interprets the forces of nature as a contemporary expression of man's place in relationship to the universe."

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