JD Challenger, Native American Celebrated Artist

Considered among the most prominent artists in the world specializing in Native American subjects, JD Challenger is one of the featured artists at the Turpin Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming.  Stopping by the gallery, we spoke briefly to JD, who shared with us his insight into the world of Native Americans and their unique approach to death.  We were able to interview JD in the privacy of Turpin Gallery (http://turpingallery.myshopify.com/) thanks to the considerate owner Ross Turpin. 

During the interview, JD discussed his experiences with the Native American world and his connection with different tribes across the country.  Born in Oklahoma, he became fascinated with Native American culture as a young boy, and in part due to his ‘step’ grandfather, a full-blooded Choctaw, Challenger has been granted unprecedented access into the thoughts, beliefs and experiences of the Native nation that few outsiders have ever had.  Death, he explained to us, is something that the Native Americans do not fear.  If it is their time, they know that the Creator has deemed it to be so.

Having nearly experienced death himself, JD faces his life with meaningful purpose.  Not only are Native Americans supportive of his work, as they have been from the outset, giving him their full blessing, but also as a result of his near death experience, which he describes as feeling that ‘native hands were pushing me back to the land of the living; as if my time was not yet up’.

Thus, he continued his beautiful craft.

According to JD, everyone needs to have a close Native American friend.  Not only did his closeness with this vital American culture allow him to find his reason for life, it helped him to find many others who have helped discover their own.  Through his art, he opens doors to Native Americans and their proud heritage, and this becomes critical to the complete overview of dying and facing death for which this documentary series strives.

To learn more about JD and to view his spectacular work, visit jdchallenger.com.