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Emerging Indigenous And Latino Artists Selected To Paint Murals In Downtown Phoenix

The first of four emerging Latino and indigenous artists’ murals was unveiled last Friday in downtown Phoenix.

As part of an outdoor project called UNCONTAINED, Navajo artist Jesse Yazzie was selected as the first to exhibit his work, "Triumph Over Tragedy."

His mural showcases his time in prison and how the art he produced there is now giving him a new opportunity just four months on the outside.

“The timepiece in the middle has a dreamcatcher on it. And so, when you put those two things together, it’s like I’m catching my dreams while I was inside and every single day I was working trying to perfect my skill,” he said.

Most of his family are artists as well, and it was important to him to incorporate indigenous iconography to honor his ancestry against a larger backdrop of what it has meant for him to live in Arizona.

Navajo designer Eunique Yazzie, who is unrelated to Jesse, is a board member of Roosevelt Row Community Development Corp., which selected the artists in collaboration with Xico Arte y Cultura.

“Indigenous people have that story of where they came from and why they’re here and then why they do their work. So, a lot of this is just revealing those stories and Native Americans in general have a very skilled background in the arts,” she said.

Originally from Chinle, she moved to Phoenix to bring awareness about indigenous art to one of the fastest growing cities in the country, often where that art is culturally appropriated by non-Native American artists or curated into exhibits in museums instead of outdoor public spaces.

In a separate press release, she stated, “It was apparent that more representation was needed for Latinx and Indigenous artists to share their stories. As an Indigenous business owner and a Native woman, I feel it is important to give back to the artist community, and be able to create spaces that can move with people and move people. With last year being what it was, the artists are struggling the most. Celebrating seasons and moments that are aligned with our rhythms - we look forward to it because it means we can start again.”

The UNCONTAINED mural artwork is located just south of Roosevelt on First Avenue.

Mural Project - 2021 schedule

  • Jesse Yazzie: Jan. 15 – March 30
  • Danny Upshaw: April 15 – June 31
  • Zachary Justin: July 15 – Sept. 30
  • Cora Jean Quiroz: Oct. 15 – Dec. 31


Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.