In The Hazy World (Łid Bichahałeeł), artist Greg Ballenger explores his indigenous ancestry by turning towards the singular architecture, the specific methods and modes of creating and maintaining space, existing across the Navajo reservations of today. Having grown up in close proximity to this land in Gallup, NM, Ballenger's eye sees more than a structure or shelter-it sees an unbridled ingenuity and persistence growing out of the necessity to survive. This exhibit will ask of you to admire the history and craftsmanship of these Navajo creations at the same level of the often studied and valued Western, European architecture.
Ranging from paintings 5 x 10 feet, to paintings a quarter of the size, the perspective being offered towards these subjects of space is as dynamic as the paintings themselves. From a distance, the works might appear as digital illustrations, but as one gets closer, one sees how finely brushed and detailed these scenes are, beneath a soft yet weighted pallette. The logic of these unwieldy shapes is not easily understood but is tried and trusted through their embrace of an almost wabi-sabi presence, which one can feel through their expression. These structures may look precarious, but they are as prevailing as the hands that put them together.
"The Hazy World (Łid Bichahałeeł), is inspired by my people’s creation story and cultural teachings about the necessity of harmony. It is dedicated to the importance of architecture beyond any appreciation for beautiful façades, interpretations of blueprints, or property values. Here, in The Hazy World, the people build structures out of whatever scrap wood they can find. Water has become more sacred than Christ. Clouds of smog hover like zeppelins across the blue sky and vast clay horizon. Energy companies continue to pollute as they proudly display the spoils of their war. In the face of unprecedented environmental, economic, and cultural change, the people continue on as resilient and creative as their ancestors."
Greg Ballenger (b. 1996) explores history, architecture, and his Diné identity through painting, sculpture, video, and performance. Influenced by his upbringing in a reservation border-town, Greg's work weaves threads of indigenous humor and ingenuity. He often explores historical and contemporary challenges that indigenous communities face and the creative ways they overcome such challenges. Greg has studied and exhibited across the United States and internationally. In 2019, he received his BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and has been recognized as a SITE Scholar (2018-2019). He is currently based out of Gallup, NM.