James Ayer’s paintings of Native American history are not just the results of a simple act with the stroke of a brush. A lot of time and attention to details are paid by him. His paintings are actually the result of years of research combined with his personal exploration and observation. During this time he studies historic artifacts and researches customs and rituals. Then he combines all of these with his understanding of the struggles of modern Native American cultures.
All of this started shortly after he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1991. It was then that he began to travel, live, and work with indigenous peoples worldwide. He still continues to do that to this present day.
In his own words he describes these experiences; “In the course of my exploration and research, I have had the honor of experiencing dozens of tribal customs and cultures, including the semi-nomadic Samburu and Turkana people in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, Native American reservations from Maine to Arizona, where I lived with the Iroquois in the Northeast, the Sioux in the Great Plains, and the Hopi in the Southwest. I have also witnessed the Arapaho Sundance Ceremony during a visit to the Wind River Reservation in Ethete, Wyoming and spent time with the Traditional Navajo weavers and sheepherders at the historic Toadlena Trading Post region of the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.”
“Most of my paintings are fictionalized accounts of Native American lifeways rather than literal representations of specific events. Yet, I make sure that every facet of my work is historically correct — from the style of a man’s plaited hair to the weapons used and even the motifs which decorate tipis, clothing, and shields.
Out of respect and honor for the people and cultures I paint, I strive to achieve the utmost honesty and authenticity I can attain. I have a belief that this authenticity provides a more poignant impression for the viewer.” Enjoy some of his wonderful paintings below.
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