Apache artist Craig Dan Goseyun is able to bring to life his love of nature, American Indian heritage and spirituality. He described his art as, “An expression of the quiet ancient part of American Indians still alive in a fast and changing world.”
Craig was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while his father served in the Air Force. When his father was assigned to Vietnam, Craig and his mother stayed with grandparents on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Southwestern Arizona, where Craig is a member of the San Carlos Eastern White Mountain Apache Tribe. Craig’s grandfather and other San Carlos elders instructed him in the traditional ways of the Apache. During his schooling, where he demonstrated exceptional drawing skills, Craig was inspired by the sculpture of artists such as Michelangelo, Brancusi, Zuniga, and Noguchi.
A humble man with a brilliant talent, he has become one of the top American Indian artists in the state of Arizona, as well as internationally. One of his most recent bronze sculptures, the “Watercarrier,” graces the entrance to Arizona State Museum on the campus of the University of Arizona, Tucson. The larger than life sculpture is swathed from head to foot in a garment through which graceful swirls, cut through the fabric of her bronze gown, show the relationship between the earth and sky. On her head she carries a vessel used to haul water.
“I have always been interested in stylized simple pieces and abstract art,” Goseyun said. “The ‘Watercarrier’ is a very simple shape. From the beginning of time, and to this day, there are cultures that still carry water vases on top of their head. Water is one of the most important resources that we have.”
“Being back home on the San Carlos Apache Reservation watching the spirit dancers and traditional dancers, I get goose bumps all over and my hair stands up. The powerful songs they sing, along with the ceremonies, the strength, fill the air with something like electricity. It is very exciting to me,” Goseyun said. He brings those feelings to life in his bronze Apache Mountain Spirit Impersonator Dancers; realistic full movement sculptures depicting coming of age and healing ceremonies.
“My maternal clan is called the Black Water Clan and my paternal clan has a meaning like the natural erosion on the side of a hill. When I see these natural formations in nature on my reservation, the wind, water, natural elements and sculpting where the water flows in the canyons, lighting, shadows, colors and textures, that really excites me a lot.”
Beginning his studies at Arizona State University in Tempe where he majored in drawing, he transferred after one semester to the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, N.M. Two years later he graduated with high honors and a degree in three-dimensional sculpture and photography. He spent an additional five years at IAIA, and six years as an apprentice with the late Apache master sculptor Alan Houser, experimenting and learning the art of sculpture. “I went from drawing to painting, to jewelry and photography, and finally sculpture,” Goseyun said.