A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Peter Ray also attended the Parson School of Design in New York.
Years ago, he painted large, colorful paintings, and was a successful participant at the prestigious Indian Market and the Heard Museum shows.
He also created colorful ceramic masks, before he left the art world for personal reasons.
Happily, he returned to ar, with wonderfully imaginative – and colorful – fabric sculptures, which are very popular.
Now, he has completed the circle, bringing in his first painting in many years, And it is spectacular!
Large, and brilliantly hued, it honors hope fulfilled, happiness, beauty, and prosperity, with clearly defined and vibrant elements.
In the tradition of tree of life designs, he features a central cornstalk, painted in cheery orange tones.
Cornstalks and corn represent the staff of life, for southwestern Natives.
There are two other, smaller cornstalks, in the distance, with traditional, stepped designs at all four corners, framing the interior of the painting.
Stepped motifs refer to both rain, and the steps leading to, and from, ceremonial kivas.
Flocks of vivid birds dart, swoop and flutter around the painted frame of the picture, and within the background, as well.
Rock art figures of water, prey animals, a crescent moon and stars -and more cornstalks – decorate the stepped symbols at the four corners.
At top center, a quiet, grey stepped area is alive with bright yellow dots and darker flecks.
The yellow dots seem to have erupted from the exuberant spray of yellow “cornsilk” at the top of the large cornstalk; they gradually float down to the bottom of the piece, like confetti.
The dots may suggest the corn pollen which is so important a part of prayers, in Navajo life. They also resemble raindrops, necessary to a good harvest.
The orange cornstalk is rooted in a dark brown, stepped area, along with oval leaf forms and tiny copper and pale blue dots.
These are the seeds and drops of water and soil, that nourish the growing corn plant.
Faithful to the artist’s love of saturated color, the cornstalk, the birds, the stepped areas, the background itself, form a dazzling array of happy and harmonious hues – even a lovely lilac, at the bottom corners.
Warm, sunny tones of yellow, orange and red are adroitly combined with cool blues and greens, anchored by the lilac, dark browns and grey.
Water, the sky, the clouds, the sun, and the earth, are all represented with radiant color, in a joyful composition reminiscent of the delightful abstractions of Matisse.
This painting is a masterfully arranged expression of happiness, sure to lift your heart.
PS It is painted along each edge of the canvas, so a frame is optional.