From the Artist - Michael Toya:
Say-uh-mah (greetings), “If You Believe,” depicts popular culture icons intertwined with traditional Puebloan interpretations of design which influences and teaches the viewer about what Pueblo people believe in. More often than not, these beliefs are transformed into powerful designs and traditional markings, in which you witness throughout the installation, that give the Pueblo people strength, courage, and confidence to keep their culture alive! For instance, the bear paws represent courage, strength, wisdom, and are a sign of protection. The corn maidens, and the stalks that they were produced from, honor fertility and new life. “Life goes on, plant our seeds and start a new beginning,’’ is what our corn maidens wish of us. The steps of life design are the trials and tribulations of your journey. The stars watch over us and shine light into our hearts. The thunderstorm clouds and lightning bolts offer great power. Everything is sacred around you whether it is the spirits of our ancestors or the forces of nature. Honor them, give thanks, and in return you will feel their blessings, if you believe.
“If You Believe” is a story of a Rebel Society warrior who was sent by his people to make peace with Chief Vader and his clan. The purpose of this reaching was to gather all the strengths and forces, from every entity, to assist our fallen clan mother, of the Rebel Society, in her journey into the next world. This clan mother that I speak of is none other than the late Maiden Leia. Maiden Leia left a Legacy behind that empowers you to reach your destination in life through faith, perseverance, and warm feeling. She is now in hyperdrive mode moving through space heading to the sacred world. She is guided and protected by the light and dark forces which surround her but the Rebel society senses that further forces are required to safely carry Maiden Leia to the sacred World.
Therefore, a Rebel Warrior was chosen and sent to gather added forces, whether light or dark. The warrior was hesitant in making peace due to his mentality of fighting to protect and honor his people. Just look into his eyes and you will see the Rebel Society symbol validating that he is true to his people and can never be swayed. In the response to the mixed emotions and hesitation of the Rebel Warrior, his people sent blessings of positive vibrations and gentle feeling. His people called upon a Rebel Pueblo Maiden, to carry out this important task, by swaying in some turquoise hummingbirds who are the messengers of positive vibrations and gentle feeling.
With this understanding, the Rebel Maiden sent prayers of positive strength and gentle feeling into the offering by simply breathing a burst of air from her soul unto the food. The hummers then indulged in the offering, took in the prayers the woman has sent, and flew away to bless the land and their Rebel Warrior. The Rebel Warrior quickly felt the presence of the turquoise hummers and their offerings, that were sent by the Rebel Maiden. With no hesitation, he took his hands and embraced the air and offerings the hummers have brought and inhaled this gentle feeling into his being. In doing so, the Rebel Warrior was successfully able to make peace with Chief Vader and bring necessary forces to safely guide Maiden Leia to the Sacred World.
About Michael Toya:
Michael Toya is of Jemez Pueblo decent and at a young age, he was certain that becoming an artist was his calling. Being exposed to traditional drawings and paintings, through familial ties, prompted Michael to focus in on pursuing a career in the art world. Michael is a self-taught artist incorporating various mediums, from acrylics to intricate free-hand mat cut designs, into every piece. You will also notice Culturally interpreted designs found in his works that educate everyone on what he upholds and believes in. It is in these designs that offer spiritual and motivational strength to the viewer. Michael recently dabbled into the Comicon scene creating pop-culture traditional art mashups. He gave his love of certain pop-culture iconic figures a taste of Native flair. This particular type of art landed him an interview and news story on KRQE13, in December of 2017.
“Before I create a piece, I take my hands and motion them away from my body and into the air brushing away all negative feeling. Then, I embrace all the good that our creator has given us. Now I am centered and focused, and can create art that inspires and educates everyone to just be yourself.”