Lomayesva’s background fed him in its own distinctive way. Gregory’s mother, Maria Romero Cash, is a traditional Hispanic santera and author who taught him to carve; his father, Bill Lomayesva, a Hopi painter and jewelry designer. His grandfather and uncle were both well-known tinsmiths. “My constant goal is to create objects that haven’t been produced or even conceptualized before.” Gregory has also produced two albums of electronic pop music on his own label, Drip Records. He has produced short films in addition to his fine art paintings and sculpture.
His sculptures are NOT kachinas, but they are inspired by Hopi designs to which he adds his own abstract designs. “I begin most of my pieces with imagery from Hopiland—but I’m not a “Native American artist” per se—I’m an American artist with Hopi roots. Other inspirations include artists Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock. In my paintings I want to convey pop art, and I love fashion.”
As a Contemporary painter and sculptor Gregory Lomayesva has achieved international recognition for a style and vision that is wholly singular in nature. His art reflects himself: bright and inventive, always willing to interpret the truth and to do so bravely and with unrestrained commitment.
Lomayesva grew up in the relatively urban environment of Santa Fe, New Mexico, its busy atmosphere contrasting with the remote quiet of his rich family roots; it was a life that allowed him simultaneous nourishment from the wider world. For Lomayesva, the artist, there were no limits as to where he could draw inspiration.
The contrasts of his mixed cultural upbringing led Lomayesva to his keen observational style and his ability to comment with razor-sharp precision on those elements in our world that most make us what and who we are. It is an artistic vision with roots in Pop Art and is expressed in the bold palette and motifs of his paintings and wood carvings. For Lomayesva, that iconic period in American art, when his idols, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Warhol and Pollock redefined how our culture could be captured on canvas or in form, paved the way for his generation to define further our blended cultural reality. It gives Lomayesva permission to appropriate in their footsteps not only more familiar American iconography but the Hispanic and Hopi iconography that equally informed his particular worldview.
Lomayesva’s work has not been without controversy for this reason, but the artist makes no distinction about which culture he draws from. It is not traditional kachinas or mudheads he is carving, but his unique carved folk craft figures are a translation of their form. If a wry edge seems appropriate, as in his “Figure with Three-Direction Tablita” then Lomayesva does not hesitate. “I'm an American artist with Hopi roots,” he explains. “Wherever I go, whatever I see becomes the inspiration for new paintings and new motifs to use within my paintings.”
Lomayesva’s paintings follow a similar genesis in appropriation with imagery as disparate as that of his indigenous roots to popular culture to classically European Renaissance masters. Using techniques that may combine innovative photo-emulsion processes and silk-screening with his own interpretive brushstrokes, Lomayesva, with thoughtfulness and emotion, layers meaning onto juxtapositions of the cultural symbols of our time, but it is a version of time that collapses past and present, the wide world and the specifics of a single lifetime.
His carvings, masks and figures, fusion artifacts if you will, have been met with the wide acclaim of critics and collectors alike. From his position at the cutting edge of American contemporary fine art, Lomayesva enjoys collectors from across the United States, in Europe and in Asia.
“I don't identify myself too much with either culture because I don't want to be pigeon-hold. I think that doing art based on ethnicity limits the playing field, so I try to express myself as an artist whose playing field is the world.”
“I try to make beautiful images by combining the cultures that have formed me.”