ANTHONY CHEE EMERSON
The artwork of Anthony Chee Emerson has evolved to express Contemporary and Traditional Navajo Folk Art themes. Family and general stores, pick-up trucks and traditional woven rugs figure in his paintings. It is the beauty of everyday living that is celebrated in his art. As with all Navajo, the Four Directions define Emerson's philosophy symbolizing concepts of thinking, colors, seasons, life, times of day, as well as the Four Sacred Mountains of Navajo land.
In his artwork, Emerson translates these concepts:
The East, where all things begin, represents the traditional stylization where family and life experiences are interpreted into Folk Art painting with intense colors. They often depict the times of yesteryear as if seen through the eyes of a child.
The South is the developmental stage of life. This is where contemporary stylization comes from - the whimsical and free falling designs, patterns and repetition expressed in Navajo Spirituality.
The West represents growth and maturity. The abstract stylization is the source of inspiration that comes from a higher Spirit. The imagination is a gift and a blessing and this gift is used as a song would be sung or a prayer spoken.
The North is usually depicted as winter or old age. In his early paintings Emerson showed landscapes, portraits and wildlife. He has returned to these roots to complete the four directions of Art.
Emerson, the artist, began in the manner of many children: by coloring on his bedroom wall. His interest in art only grew throughout his childhood, leading him to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where he studied printmaking. His professional art career began in 1982 and success followed. He participated in, and won awards at, the Santa Fe (NM) Indian Market, Gallup (NM) Intertribal Ceremonials, Heard Museum Indian Art Market (Phoenix, AZ), Autry Museum (Los Angeles, CA), Southwest Indian Art Fair (Arizona State Museum on University of AZ campus, Tucson), and the Eiteljorg Museum (Indianapolis, IN).
In the mid-80s Emerson shared his skills and artistic knowledge as an Art Instructor at Navajo Academy in Farmington, NM. The late 80's found him starting his own painting and graphic company and in the late 90's he and his wife opened Emerson Gallery in Farmington, and featured his paintings there for ten years.
Emerson has also illustrated children's books including, "How the Rattlesnake Got its Rattle," "Songs of Shiprock Fair," "First Fire" and "My Horse." In 2002, he was commissioned by Johns Hopkins University to illustrate its Native American Health Studies for Teenage Depression Series. In 2004, he graduated with an Associates of Arts Degree from San Juan College (Farmington, NM). Emerson has been an Artist in Residence at both the Lawrence Arts Center (KS) and the Muckenthaler Museum (Fullerton, CA). His work is in numerous private, corporate and public collections and his murals grace the walls of schools, hospitals and office buildings.