2 of 73

Johnson Antonio
Navajo Figures
1985–92
acrylic and watercolor on cottonwood
various sizes
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment



Antonio was more than fifty when he began carving likenesses of Navajo people and their animals. He calls these figures "dolls," but unlike the ceremonial Kachina carvings of the Hopi, these figures represent people from his own experience and reaffirm Navajo life in northern New Mexico. The ear of Indian corn held by the smallest female figure, the Navajo blanket draped over the arm of another, and the pairing of the central male figure with a dog are recurring motifs in Antonio's art. Antonio appreciates the money he earns for his work, but says, "I make them for myself.…The cash will soon be gone, but the dolls will live forever."