1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Damian Jim, and I’m Dine’ (Navajo) from the Four Corners area in Utah who works out of Phoenix, AZ . I’m an artist who creates fantastic art based on my experiences as a person living in 2 different cultures. My topics are snapshots of Dine’ symbols and language phrases spliced with contemporary art, anime, and political material. Recent themes include critical pieces on the environment and endangered species, over consumption of resources, and forced assimilation through governmental managed systems. My work has been included in several galleries around town, LA, NY, and Italy, however I mainly show my work through 1Spot Gallery in downtown Phoenix. 1Spot Gallery is the only indigenous-owned gallery in Phoenix, and we’re privileged to work with a lot of talented people in creating exhibits that feature contemporary art that is not associated with classical forms of Native American/Cowboy themed paintings.
2. How did you get your start?
I started pretty early, I would say around kindergarten; my stick figure drawings were amazing and, just like today, I scribbled
anywhere/anytime I get bored. My 6th grade teacher
started encouraging me to draw while working with the school newspaper, and from there I continued drawing as a way of escaping my dramatic life. It was in high school that I knew I wanted to do art in some capacity after graduation, and I also knew that I had to find a career that would allow me to find work anywhere.
I enrolled in Al Collin’s Graphic Design School a month after graduation, and received my AA in graphic design. It wasn’t until I
was back in Southeastern Utah, that I found a job with Twin Rocks Trading Post in Bluff, working with traditional Dine’, and contemporary designs for jewelry, rugs, and baskets. During this time I expanded my skill set and started winning awards in local southwest Indian Art Markets. Through the work I was doing at the Trading Post, I cultivated my abstract and geometric design skills and in the process, created my own style and work based on Dine’ mythology. Eventually, I wanted to expand my coding skills for working with responsive websites, so I enrolled at DeVry University and earned a degree in Computer Information Systems.
After a hiatus during which I hadn’t shown any work in Phoenix, aside from a public demonstration booth at Heard Museum, I met Michelle Ponce a performance artist and the co-founder of Mujeres Del Sol, who encouraged me to apply for a spot in the Conspire Art Collective. It was around this time we created Ziindi, a zine to promote contemporary indigenous art to the Navajo Reservation, with zines and events, and eventually curate an all-female show at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, AZ. After several successful shows, Michelle and I united with other artists and created Indie Arthouse, where I presented a couple of solo shows. At some point, Indie Arthouse members disbanded and I was without representation again, until I found a great space on 6th Street and Roosevelt. This became 1Spot Gallery, where Michelle and I started hosting all indigenous shows, and providing a platform for indigenous artists. Aside from my own venue, I managed to showcase my art in other galleries and at events such as, Raisces Taller 222 Art Gallery in Tucson, ArtLink A.E. England Gallery ASU, the Phoenix Phabulous History Mural Project, Navajo Nation Nizhoni Arts Market, Xico Inc, Project Ethos for Phoenix Fashion Week, Coachella, Times Square, NY, Arizona State University UCENT Building, and most recently as part of Imago Mundi in Venice.
3. What inspires you?
My current inspirations are from publicly available media, events from indigenous history, environmental, political, science fiction, popular culture, heritage (Dine’ Twin Hero Legend), technology, comic book art, and animation. The latest generation of Indigenous Art and Street Art has also been prevalent in my environment, along with trips to California, Santa Fe, Germany, Italy and Spain, to experience various murals, installations and collections.
4. What do you like about AZ?
Who can beat all the outdoor activities year round that are available for everyone? The mountain biking trails here in Phoenix, like Usery Pass and McDowell Mountains. Flagstaff also offer a lot of several great trails, with fun loops and speedy courses. The burgeoning art movement happening in downtown Phoenix is also exciting, as well as all the people involved in making this city a destination that people want to visit.
5. Where can we see you(r) work?
1Spot Gallery which is located at, 918 N. 6th Street, Unit B, Phoenix, AZ. Or the following links:
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
To never stop learning.
7. What is your mantra?
Art is my focus, not I, and the art takes precedence over everything.