Zuni Sunface

Among the Hopi and Zuñi people of the American Southwest, as well as the Rio Grande Pueblo Tribes, and in fact all Native American People, and indeed people all over the world, the Sun is a powerful and revered force of life-giving importance.

There are many symbolic representations of the Sun. To me, the most beautiful is this simple, direct image from Zuñi.

When I first began painting professionally, in 1967, I looked about, searching for a symbol that I could use as talisman, trademark, emblem the way Maynard Dixon had used his Thunderbird in a Circle, and Whistler his Butterfly.

I had just started wearing a ring that I had taken in trade, and become fond of. It was an early Zuñi Channel piece, and at its center was a Sunface design, inlaid with Turquoise, Coral, Shell, and Jet.

As I was completely immersed at that time in painting Indians and things Indian, and because the Sun is the source of the light that illuminates all that we see and paint, I chose to adopt this elegant, simple design as my symbol.

I didn't realize it at the time, but it would later become more meaningful to me because it also represented the three primary colors, which I have used exclusively since 1979.

I still wear the ring, and use the Sunface as an integral part of my signature, though I have moved on to other things and seldom paint Indian subjects, except for the Kachinas which are still a vital and important part of my work.

You will find it sprinkled throughout this web site, as I have learned to feel comfortable and at home in its presence, as I hope you will.

- John