Harriette Tsosie

Artist's Statement

My work is invariably about identity, as shaped by place, language and genetics and revealed in the marking-making unique to each person. Since artists painted in caves and wrote on bone, humans have “made their mark.” My marks are made with acrylic on canvas or panel and encaustic (pigmented wax) on panel or paper. My technique involves layering materials to give the work both physical and psychological depth.
Of the three aspects of identity that I explore in my work, language dominates. I am fascinated by extinct and dead languages and the sheer beauty of their imagery. I am less concerned about the words and thoughts they may be expressing. I also explore contemporary language issues, such as the threatened loss of Native languages, which were seldom written. The manifestation of language in its written form seems always beautiful, no matter what the culture. Many spoken languages are being eradicated as their last speakers die off. Written language is also being jeopardized by the relentless advance of technology. Homogenized computer symbols are replacing the beautiful cursive writing of the past. The loss of written language erodes identity.