“Hard Times”

Nate Nez


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Young Navajo artist, proud Army veteran, and family man, Nate Nez started out as a street artist and has grown his career from there.

After serving in Iraq in 2003, Nate returned home and five years later, met his wife.

With no knowledge of art or its history, until he attended the University of New Mexico, he participated in a joint public/private mural project for Albuquerque’s Healthcare for the Homeless building.

That inspired him to continue doing art, and after moving to Albuquerque in 2013, Nate pursued his art dream!

“Hard Times” shows a solitary Yei figure floating between two distinct areas. The darker area behind him symbolizes the hard times that he is leaving behind. He is looking forward to better times, and the hummingbird is helping him to send and receive messages as he moves toward better times, which are shown as balanced, peaceful, and inviting on the right side of the painting. This is one of many works inspired by the current pandemic, as the Yei figure represents the Diné people.

Of his own art, Nate says, “As a Navajo artist, I took new steps and a new direction with my style, going beyond the normal boundaries of Native American art by including a collaboration of my graffiti style. I do value my traditions and culture giving much respect; however, I have learned to evolve and develop my style from the norm. I stay close to my culture, values, and roots. My family and friends have told me stories that turned into art. I also use art as an outlet to help deal with PTSD and so that keeps me grounded as well as pushing me to paint more.”

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