Click here to view this artwork, Countenance of the Earth | Navajo Nation, and its currently available sizes.

The majority of people, if asked to name the three oldest things in their homes, will name objects, such as books, a family heirloom, perhaps a work of art or a musical instrument, camera, or stamp collection. I include myself in this common reaction, having recently been asked and naming Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, a book I’ve had since I was 16, a vessel my mother gave me long ago, and a mahjong game set from China with exquisite pieces made from old ivory that are set inside beautiful handmade boxes.

Encouraged to shift my focus away from material objects, I realize the oldest elements in my home are beliefs and principles by which I try to live. The beliefs are based on integrity, decency, and kindness. There is the notion of karma, of putting my best foot forward and believing light will shine upon me when I do. If I am able to approach every day with the idea of reverence, my home becomes a temple. I focus on having few objects and only items that have meaning. When I am present with paintings, photographs and people in my home, I am sent to places of worship. This is worship not in a religious sense, but in terms of keeping countenance, a word I love. It is a spiritual practice drawing upon ancient wisdom and keeps me balanced, of sound mind, and honorable.

The young woman you see in this image has not had decades to accumulate objects, nor is she likely to because the people of the Navajo Nation—her people—tend not to ascribe to an accumulative culture or mindset. Instead, if asked she might say the oldest thing in her home is the land. People in the Navajo Nation do not build with monumental force upon the land. They live as small layers with it, honing their abodes and lives according to the land’s dictates. In this place where she stands, there is shelter, refuge, spirituality. Her attention and ours, as we view the photograph, are on natural elements such as wind, water, sky, and the marvelous embrace and architecture of a homeland.

Limited Edition


16 x 24 inches (40.64 x 60.96 cm)

24 x 36 inches (60.96 x 91.44 cm)

30 x 45 inches (76.2   x 114.3 cm)