Swanson, Ray

 1937 - 2004
Ray Swanson was one of America's leading painters of southwest Indian tribes, particularly the Navajo and Hopi of Arizona. With a sense of history, Swanson worked to preserve images of a rapidly disappearing life -- the life of "The People." His paintings all illustrated his great sensitivity, understanding and love of his subjects and their land. Years of observation on Indian reservations gave him a sensitive understanding of his subjects and their lands. Known for their light, composition and values, Swanson's paintings preserved a vanishing native American society.

Swanson painted nearly all his life; he began drawing as a boy on the family farm in South Dakota. He worked primarily in three media: oil, watercolor and pencil. Although he painted various subjects, Swanson found the Navajo and Hopi Indians of Arizona to be the central focus of his art. That these native Americans held a very special place in his heart was reflected in Swanson's paintings -- from the innocence of a young child to the strength and tenacity in the facial lines of an elderly Indian. His art was the subject of the book, The Art of Ray Swanson: Celebrating People and Lifestyles, published by Old Paint Publishing Co.

Swanson received many honors and awards for his art in each medium. He was awarded a Gold Medal for watercolor from the National Academy of Western Art and two Gold Medals for western art from the Franklin Mint.