JD Challenger is a painter and sculptor of Native Americans. He was born in Oklahoma with a desire to paint that appeared at a young age. He learned color, shading, light and shadow from closely observing nature and drawing what he saw. Always fascinated by the culture and customs of the Native Americans, near to whom he lived and soon considered his closest friends, the young Challenger absorbed their stories and traditions. He sketched his observations of their lives.
At the beginning of his career, he lived in Taos, New Mexico where he did landscape painting and learned much about Native Americans by observing first hand Indians of the Taos Pueblo. At first, he was reluctant to show his oil and acrylic paintings of them in public for fear of offending a people he greatly admired. Upon witnessing a Ghost Dance ceremony, Challenger discovered his mission and what he wanted to paint. He later said: "As I stood there watching the chanting and the dancing, I knew what I wanted to paint . . . nothing had ever been clearer." (jdchallenger.com)
With encouragement from friends, he showed his work to some Native Americans, one who was a holy man. Challenger was told, "Your path is to tell our story and educate others."
JD Challenger depicts the story of a people rich in heritage and tradition. These stories are sometimes poignant, often angry, but always powerful and demanding to be told. Whether it be in the stoic, distant gaze of a young warrior in Whirlwind Horse or the regal stare of Wildcat, The Renegade Act II, the subjects of JD Challengers portraits are intended to look straight into the soul.