The Sweet Smell of Home: The Life and Art of Leonard F. Chana

A self-taught artist in several mediums who became known for stippling, Leonard Chana captured the essence of the Tohono O’odham people. He incorporated subtle details of O’odham life into his art, and his images evoke the smells, sounds, textures, and tastes of the Sonoran desert—all the while depicting the values of his people. 

He began his career by creating cards and soon was lending his art to posters and logos for many community-based Native organizations. Winning recognition from these groups, his work was soon actively sought by them. Chana’s work also appears on the covers and as interior art in a number of books on southwestern and American Indian topics. 

The Sweet Smell of Home is an autobiographical work, written in Chana’s own voice that unfolds through oral history interviews with anthropologist Susan Lobo. Chana imparts the story of his upbringing and starting down the path toward a career as an artist. Balancing humor with a keen eye for cultural detail, he tells us about life both on and off the reservation.

Eighty pieces of art—26 in color—grace the text, and Chana explains both the impetus for and the evolution of each piece. Leonard Chana was a people’s artist who celebrated the extraordinary heroism of common people’s lives. The Sweet Smell of Home now celebrates this unique artist whose words and art illuminate not only his own remarkable life, but also the land and lives of the Tohono O’odham people.

Cover Image: 

Cover Image of The Sweet Smell of Home

Author: 

Publication Year: 

2009

Citation: 

Chana, Leonard F., Susan Lobo, and Barbara Chana. 2009. The sweet smell of home: the life and art of Leonard F. Chana. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences