Art lovers of all kinds gathered into the auditorium in Ball Hall on Thursday evening to see artist John Feodorov talk about how he combined the Navajo culture and modern day events into his artwork.
The event was held as a part of the ETSU Native American Festival with the art on display in the Slocumb Galleries on ETSU’s main campus.
Feodorov’s work ranged from paintings to different types of objects that he had turned into art.
“They were made over a five-year time,” Feodorov said. “I think it’s just a combination of what I’ve been thinking about for the past five or so years. Maybe spawned by the BP oil spill, but also kind of the political situation in the country.”
During the presentation, Feodorov talked about his childhood and how he was raised as a Christian, but he was allowed to participate in some of the secular Navajo dances. This combination of the Christian religion and Navajo culture would come out in his artwork through pieces such as “Where the Gods Meet.”
In this piece Feodorov tries to resolve contradictions between western Christianity and Navajo traditions. The piece consists of long wooden boards and attached to the boards are doll hands that hold both Christian and Navajo symbols. Behind the masks on the boards are speakers that alternate between Navajo chants and Christian Gregorian chants.
Feodorov also focused on aspects other than religion, such as environmental concerns. In the artist statement, Feodorov said his piece “Emergence” was inspired by events that had been happening in the environment.
“While watching continuous live video feed of the BP oil well freely spewing into the Gulf, I couldn’t help but think of the Navajo creation story where animals, insects and gods climbed a magic reed like the fabled Jack and the Beanstalk from the Third World into our current Fourth World to escape certain annihilation. I kept thinking of that leaking pipe as another “reed” in which spirits embedded deep within the Earth were now emerging into our world.”
The art within Feodorov’s exhibit combines two distinctly different cultures that tackle ideas such as religion and what effect on the environment we have, leaving the viewer to realize that even though the Navajo culture has its own unique traditions and legends, it is very similar to everyday culture too.
“If I hope for something, it’s a very basic hope. I just hope people, if they’ve connected with the work, it leads them to maybe pursue something. I hope they just connect with something.”
“Absurdity of Truth” will be on display in the Slocumb Galleries until October.