Kachinas – Then and Now


John Farnsworth has been portraying both old and new Kachina Dolls in modern compositions for the past forty years. His larger than life depictions, combining a love of detail with an appreciation of the Kachinas’ inherent abstraction, bring exciting new life to a timeless art.


New paintings in oil, pastel and watercolor.


August 21 – Sept 18

Book Signing and Artist Reception Thursday, August 21


Farnsworth Gallery

133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte


505 758-0776



Sio Hemis (Home-going Kachina) / Oil on Linen / 30 x 24 inches /

John Farnsworth 2008


I was born in Williams, Arizona and grew up in Northern Arizona, in the shadow of the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. At the age of nine, I visited Taos, my mother’s birthplace. In the galleries of Taos, I realized that I would be an artist.


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I studied independently, and painted in my spare time while working at jobs that included managing a small private museum and Indian shop, working as a trader on the Navajo Reservation, and as Preparator at the Museum of Northern Arizona, under Kachina expert and author Barton Wright.

In 1967, I began camping and traveling among the Navajo and Pueblos at every opportunity; sketching, painting, and attending ceremonials.

In 1977 I quit painting Indian subjects. I was feeling burned out; as though I’d been run over by the band-wagon of Indian-subject popularity. I also stopped attending Kachina dances because of my embarrassment over the crowding and rude, thoughtless behavior of so many non-Indians.

After a couple of years, however, the Kachinas found their way back into my consciousness. While I now paint many different subjects, ranging from animals to people, from still life to landscape, Kachinas remain an important part of my work.

I paint Kachinas because:

they are there.

they are beautiful.

they are a part of me.

they are timeless and enduring.

they are intriguing and mysterious.

they are powerful and evocative and alive.

they are carved and textured and painted and aged.

they are feathered and masked and costumed or unclothed.

they are primordial and sophisticated and speak of other worlds.

they are carriers of messages and of prayers and bringers of rain and life.

they are subtle and complex, terrifying and comforting, animal, man, spirit, cloud.

they are hope and fear, promise and admonition, deliverance and instruction, comfort and song.

they are of the earth and of the sky and of the air and of the water that flows through everything.

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