In many of his works, Les Namingha references his Hopi-Tewa and Zuni heritage. Kiva Wall Painting takes inspiration from art created for the walls of ancient kivas. Many of these underground religious chambers contain spectacular examples of pre-contact art and are covered with paintings depicting Pueblo life and religious ceremonies, colorful symbols, and portrayals of humans, animals, lightning, rain, and katsinas. Les was particularly influenced by the kiva wall paintings found at Awatovi and other ruin sites. The village of Awatovi, which has been a ruin since 1700, was the first of the Hopi villages to be visited by the Spanish in 1540, but it was not until 1629 that there was a serious effort to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. In that same year, the mission church of San Bernardo de Aguatubi was built over Awatovi’s main kiva. During the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 the church was destroyed. However, during the Reconquest plans were made to rebuild the mission, but by 1700 tensions between the Christian converts and adherents of the traditional Hopi religion in all the other villages exploded. Warriors set upon the Awatovi, killing all the men. Many women and children also died and those that survived were dispersed among other Hopi villages. According to Hopi oral tradition the priest at Awatovi was beheaded.
For Kiva Wall Painting, Les draws on representations of the Butterfly Maiden. According to the artist, “The figures depicted are actually butterfly maiden figures on flowers. Note the Hopi-style hair whorls on the figures.” The painting on the piece is a balance of muted tones for the Butterfly Maidens and strong colors – red, black, and white – for the rest of the pot. Les has taken classic Hopi images and designs and reinterpreted them in his own unique style.
8 ¾” high by 11” wide