FARMINGTON — The artist behind this year's Northern Navajo Nation Fair poster is a 15-year-old.

Shemar George created the poster, which depicts the Shiprock pinnacle, four ears of corn, four arrowheads and a basket.

Last year, well-known, professional artist Cal Nez designed the poster. Created with oil and acrylic paints, charcoal and pencil, it intricately depicted a Yei' Bi' Chei dancer with items symbolizing tradition and technology floating on either side of him.

This year's poster is different.

“I sketched it out, redrew the whole thing again and colored over it with colored pencil,” George said.

George is in Art II at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington. And although his artistic method was much simpler that the one Nez used, the care and effort put into the drawing cannot be denied. Each kernel of corn is carefully traced, and the pattern on the basket is perfectly symmetrical.

In an interview with The Daily Times about his poster last year, Nez said, “I use to see the fair posters while attending Sanostee Boarding School, and I said, ‘I will be the fair poster artist one day.'”

So he was touched to learn that a 15-year-old boy's artwork was showcased this year.

“That is so beautiful to hear,” he said.

George won the poster contest this summer. Contestants were required to produce an image that represented the fair's theme: “Individually, we restore balance and harmony.”

George submitted his poster with the following explanation: “…What the corn represent is having harmony, also what the basket represents is to restore balance, the four arrowheads represent the four directions and the four colors, what the corn stalks represent is the corn pollen we bless ourselves with. In the background, the rock represents Shiprock.
Shemar George, whose artwork is featured on the 2013 Northern Navajo Nation Fair poster, shows off some of his other pieces.
Shemar George, whose artwork is featured on the 2013 Northern Navajo Nation Fair poster, shows off some of his other pieces. (Molly Maxwell/Special to The Daily Times)
So altogether Shiprock individually balance itself like the Navajo basket and has harmony like the corn stalks and the corn.”

Even after winning the contest, Shemar George did not realize that his art would be the fair's sole poster, said the teenager's father, Philip George.

“At first, we thought there were going to be two posters, one for youth and one for adults,” Philip George said.

The family lives in Newcomb, a tiny, remote town in southeastern San Juan County on the edge of the Chuska Mountains. Shemar George travels an hour to Farmington each week to attend Navajo Prep and goes home for the weekends.

When he's not in art class, the teen gets plenty of practice drawing at home.

He often draws Hawaiian flowers or images of the Los Angeles Lakers for his sister, said his father.

“His little sister always asks him to draw for her,” he said.