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James Ayers

About James Ayers

Painter of Historic Native American Cultures

My paintings are more than just a slice of Native American history. They are the result of years of research combined with personal exploration and observation. I study historic artifacts, research customs and rituals, and marry these with my understanding of the struggles of modern Native American cultures.

In the face of inevitable change, my mission is to honor the customs and beauty of traditional cultures through my paintings.

Twenty Years of Research

Shortly after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1991, I began a pattern of traveling, living, and working with indigenous peoples worldwide that continues to the present day. 

  James  Ayers

In the course of my exploration and research, I have had the honor of experiencing dozens of tribal customs and cultures, including

  • The semi-nomadic Samburu and Turkana people in Africa’s Great Rift Valley
  • Native American reservations from Maine to Arizona, where I lived with the Iroquois in the Northeast, the Sioux in the Great Plains, and the Hopi in the Southwest.
  • The Arapaho Sundance Ceremony during a visit to the Wind River Reservation in Ethete, Wyoming.
  • Traditional Navajo weavers and sheepherders at the historic Toadlena Trading Post region of the Navajo reservation in New Mexico

Authentic Details

Most of my paintings are fictionalized accounts of Native American lifeways rather than literal representations of specific events. Yet, I make sure that every facet of my work is historically correct — from the style of a man’s plaited hair to the weapons used and even the motifs which decorate tipis, clothing, and shields.

Out of respect and honor for the people and cultures I paint, I strive to achieve the utmost honesty and authenticity I can attain. I have a belief that this authenticity provides a more poignant impression for the viewer.

A Little About Me

I get asked frequently if I am Native American. A small amount.

My ancestry is typical of many Americans and spans all corners of the globe. I was adopted as an infant by a Greek-American family in Boston and have African American, German, Welsh and Native American roots.

As a person with a multicultural background, I am deeply aware of the importance in accuracy when portraying a specific culture. I take great care to make sure the American Indian cultures I represent in my paintings are authentic and respectful–not only to the historical figures I paint, but also to the living descendants of these peoples.

Please see the James Ayers resume page for a chronological listing of my awards, exhibits, and professional experience.

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