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Rising Stars: Meet Shawn Ahkeah

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Ahkeah.

Hi Shawn, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I am a full-blood Navajo ( Dine`) from northwestern New Mexico in a town called Shiprock which is located on the Navajo Nation reservation. I have been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon or pencil in my hand. I always love to create art as a young child and made mainly crayon drawing. My family moved quite a lot because of my fathers occupation so I attended different schools off the reservation. While attending different elementary schools, I had a special counselor/teacher who was also Navajo who would visit me once a week. I would spend all day with her and she would teach me my cultural art such as beadwork and painting. Being introduced to paint for the first time, I was hooked and have been painting ever since. After I graduated High School, I enlisted in the United States Air Force and then later began a long career being a Land Surveyor. I never had time to do any art so I put my paints away for over 20+ years. In June of 2018, I decided I should do something with my artistic talent and began to paint again. Slowly people began liking my work and I decided maybe I could do this full-time. It was a struggle because at times, I would run out of funds for materials. I feel I am a different person now that I’m doing what I loved doing creating art. Painting is my therapy and I’m happy doing something I enjoy.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It hasn’t been a smooth road because at first, I had to give up my job/career so I had to budget my money. I also had to kind of reteach myself how to paint. At times I would run out of art materials I really needed, such as canvases and paint because I didn’t have a steady source of income. I also reside on the Navajo Reservation and would have to travel to another city for art supplies.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My main choice of medium is Acrylic paint but I also use charcoal pencil or graphite pencil. I’m also gonna give oil paint a try because I never tried oil painting. The art I create is Southwestern Art and the Navajo culture. The Navajo culture is very beautiful and I want to paint that and share that with others. I try to make my art colorful. I am proud of my culture and heritage. I try to invoke an emotion in the viewer from observing my paintings or art.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
I am willing to collaborate with other artist. If they are painters, we could do a mural, canvas painting, or drawing together. The artists would have to work with me via email, internet, etc. and plan something out. For the support, I’d suggest you follow me on social media.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Image credit: Shawn Ahkeah

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