News From Indian Country by Marijo Moore - 03.31.2000
Rhett Lynch, Navajo Artist
In traditional Indian thought, artists are considered spiritually gifted for the common good of the people. Artistic gifts are to be used to illustrate dreams and visions, to keep the culture alive, and to honor the
traditions of the nation. Ignoring these gifts goes against spiritual teachings.
Many Native artists, such as Navajo Rhett Lynch, are sharing their gifts in fantastic creations. Rhett says he draws inspiration from his personal life and experiences, and heritage and from the perpetual desire to discover.
Originally from Texas, Rhett
now lives in Santa Fe
where he has a studio. In his twenty years as a professional artist, he has expressed art in a variety of mediums from hand-woven tapestries to sculpture, monotypes to
paintings in oil and acrylic.
He has focused on a broad range of subject matter from the human form to animals, landscapes, icons, and legends. Regardless of the medium, his work always contains an unmistakable intensity of colors.
To view one of Rhett's paintings, such as the mixed media Horse Medicine, is to be drawn into a world of ever-deepening color and mystical multi meaning. There is no way to avoid the mysterious power of this work, which measures 30 x 36. It elicits a moving of one's spirit, disturbing yet simultaneously invigorating. I have chosen the painting to grace the cover of the spoken word/music CD Confessions of a Red Woman I am now working on.
In a sense, Rhett's most recent creations are the personification of one of my favorite quotes which states that "spirituality is paying attention." In January of 1998, he was diagnosed with toxic poisoning. He spent several months in bed trying to undo damage his lifestyle had wrought upon him.
He began to contemplate mortality and his sleep filled with dreams like he had never before experienced. An entire dream would consist of "a formless atmosphere of one color." The next dream would be a different color. He relates that his favorites were the blue and red dreams. Rhett knew he was beginning to heal.
Upon recovering, Rhett returned to his studio and his creativity took a different path as he began working on his Dreamland Paintings series. He discovered that he was bringing his color-filled dreams to manifestation on canvas and the deep, powerful colors that "resonate like music" looked very much like Navajo weavings.
The sickness, dreams and manifestations of these dreams brought Rhett to the realization the poison that had filled his body was a metaphor of something much bigger than himself. "We are blind. We are asleep. We are killing the land, the sky, the animals, ourselves. We are spiraling."
The Dreamland Paintings are Rhett's
tribute to the earth and a reminder that we all have within what it takes to heal ourselves, others, and this earth: interconnectedness. We must simply pay attention to what Spirit is
saying to us, regardless whether it be through illness, dreams, or creative outbursts. Healing comes from interconnectedness but only if we do our part by honoring our paths and respecting our gifts.
Rhett's latest series is called Messengers. In March of 2000, Gallery 10 in Scottsdale, AZ will host the premiere exhibition of the
collection of paintings. This series also represents the native belief that knowledge
presents itself in many forms, event that of a tiny hummingbird. Our responsibility is to be willing to listen.