Gallery Artists > Darren Vigil Gray Biography :

Darren Vigil Gray (b. 1959)  Artworks >>

Darren Vigil Gray grew up on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in Dulce, New Mexico, the son of a Jicarilla Apache father and an Oklahoma Kiowa mother. He left the reservation at age 15 to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and graduated in 1977. He went on to study art at the College of Santa Fe and the University of New Mexico. Since that time he has been prominent in the Santa Fe art scene, primarily as a painter but also as a musician. Vigil Gray's paintings tend towards abstract expressionism, and are predominantly acrylic on canvas. Other mediums include oil on canvas and monoprints. Subjects include Northern New Mexico landscapes as well as dreamscape / figural compositions with mythological imagery. His first mentor was the great Kiowa/Caddo painter T.C. Cannon, who encouraged his students to "create their own mythology." Other influences include Fritz Scholder, and Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Elmer Bischoff, David Park, and Richard Diebenkorn. Vigil Gray lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, Jill Momaday (daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday) and their two daughters. Artist statement, 1997: As an artist, painting continues to be a way to speak...a way to face life's most difficult challenges. My choice to live an artistic life stems from a lifelong desire to evolve differently from the others around me. At an early age I escaped the system of the reservation. This decision opened up a whole universe of ideas and sensibilities to me that would help me reach my artistic goals. At this stage in my career, the reverse can now be said. I desire to go back to my roots, to the place from which I emerged, and to the place where I will finally return...if not physically return, then spiritually and psychically. In certain circles, the trend is to go back to understand and retrieve our indigenous past. The oral history contains great reserves of imagery that I can draw from to express universal ideas, situations and themes. These are the tools that will help me to discover where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going. As a modern Indian and a modern painter, my greatest challenge is to straddle the two worlds in which I exist...keeping one foot in the modern world, without compromising the elements of the natural world that feeds and nurtures my spirit. Most of the time spent in my workplace tends to be a battleground of ideas and of finding new ways to bring life to a dead, two-dimensional surface. The paintings remain a mystery to me, even after I believe that they are complete. I much prefer the idea of artist as mediator...the mediator between the earthly world of paint, and the unearthly realm of artistic creation. If the paintings are of landscapes, the location invariably remains the same. This process allows me to mold and shape the one locale innumerable times, until I have come away with an idea of what is there. The wonderful thing about looking at, and depicting the real world, is that it is never the same for each individual, nor is it the same from painting to painting. The most exciting things occur when the figure, head study, or intuitive mark-makings manifest their forms on the canvas. There is a rhythm that begins to flow. This is a much different rhythm than occurs in the landscapes. This rhythm is of a more personal and private nature, and it has the ability to take me to some level of spiritual experience. I believe that this experience has to do with a type of power that you don't always posses...a type of power, which comes to you after time. Art is like my religion. My faith is in having all the elements come together to make that one good painting. These are the moments I live for. Source

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