Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project: Navajo Artist, Eugene Tapahe @ Modern West, Salt Lake City

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Modern West, Salt Lake City // October 20, 2023 – November 18, 2023

After nearly a decade of collaboration and support of an evolving body of work, Modern West announces official representation of mixed media Navajo artist Eugene Tapahe. The gallery will debut Tapahe’s solo show, Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project, this fall. This ongoing photography series honors the healing and uniting power of the Ojibwe jingle dress and gives hope through art, dance and culture. This exhibition will be on display October 20 through November 18, 2023.

Eugene Tapahe is a Diné (Navajo) artist from Window Rock, Arizona now based in Provo, Utah. Tapahe has a multidisciplinary approach in his work, largely specializing in photography and performative land installations. His work celebrates the identity, stories, traditions and culture of his Native American heritage while exploring and incorporating contemporary techniques and concepts.

During his first years of life on the Navajo Nation, Tapahe and his grandmother practiced the traditional ways of their ancestors – learning the importance of respecting and preserving the land in which they resided. Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project is one of several ways Tapahe shows his reverence. 

The project originated from a dream Tapahe had during the COVID-19 pandemic – inspiring him to unite the land and people through the Ojibwe jingle dress dance during these uncertain times of sickness and social differences. Since then, Tapahe has traveled over 25,000 miles capturing family members dancing the healing jingle dress dance in National Parks and Monuments, honoring the places where their ancestors once lived.

In the process of photographing, Tapahe found one overarching metaphor. “I put one of my hands on one of the jingles and I shook it. That one jingle didn’t make any sound,” he said. “But together they have the power to heal. As human beings, if we are able to unite ourselves and our prayers and make a beautiful sound as the jingle dress does, we could be powerful.

Tapahe has a distinct ability to capture the essence of his subject matter, using natural light as a means of documenting the spiritual exchange of the Ojibwe jingle dress dance with the land. Together, the photographs in Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project create a profound viewing experience and bring global awareness to Native American issues. 

“For me, the art is in the process and creation of my work – it’s healing – this sacred connection with nature,” Tapahe said. “I hope my art creates this same peaceful and harmonious connection with the earth because it is necessary to sustain our identity and life.”

Modern West will host the Opening Artist Reception for Tapahe’s solo exhibition Friday, October 20 from 6-8 PM.

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