Elmer Yazzie was born in Shiprock, New Mexico. He is an enrolled member of the Diné (Navajo) Nation. Boyhood days were spent on the reservation, where he was educated both at Shiprock Elementary School and Rehoboth Mission School, later attending Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and earning a B.A. in Art Education (’76).
He began his career as a full time art educator for grades K-12, and has developed his own art while teaching full or part time since August of 1976. Yazzie’s art has captured the attention of art appreciators and students world-wide.
Yazzie’s unique use of the yucca plant for his watercolor brushes has brought many opportunities for presentations, lectures, exhibits and seminars. Invited to show and teach in China, Germany, Israel, Belize and throughout North America, he is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. His work as both artist and educator enables the learner to understand his Navajo culture and its artistic expression. Cultural lectures on various art forms of the Navajo are well received at all age levels.
Acrylic and watercolor paintings are the focus of Yazzie’s works. He specializes in painting “sky-scapes” and symbolic life themes in a variety of sizes.
Spirituality permeates Yazzie’s life and his art. In his words, “Art must communicate uniqueness because it is inspired.”
Yazzie resides near Gallup, New Mexico, where he enjoys visiting and conversing about art over a cup of coffee. He teaches art and coaches the cross country teams at Rehoboth Christian School.