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The Santa Fe Indian School In 1916 Elizabeth DeHuff, newly graduated with an education degree from Barnard College in New York, came to Santa Fe with her husband, John DeHuff. John assumed the position of superintendent of the city’s Indian boarding school; and, although she was not an art teacher, Elizabeth would come to play an important role in the artistic development of the school’s students. The DeHuffs encouraged young artists at the Santa Fe Indian School to paint ceremonial scenes. In 1920, Museum of New Mexico director Edgar Lee Hewett brought Tsireh, Zia artist Velino Shije Herrera and two young Hopi painters, Fred Kabotie and Otis Polelonema, to work at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. The artists attended classes, demonstrated painting and sold their work to museum visitors. Elizabeth DeHuff brought Kabotie, Polelonema and Herrera into her home, providing them with painting materials. The DeHuffs saw to it that the students’ works received attention both within and outside the Santa Fe community. So strong were the couple’s convictions that, by most accounts, John DeHuff lost his job in 1927 because he had encouraged the students to include traditional subjects in their work. It would not be until the early 1930s that a consistent and sustained policy of encouraging Native painting in boarding school education would take hold. The ban on Native dancing and other ceremonial practices was rescinded and the assimilationist policies of the federal government were tempered. No longer was assimilation the only sanctioned choice. The Studio School In 1932 Dorothy Dunn was hired to teach at the Santa Fe Indian School. Dunn favored educational practices that perpetuated and fostered pride in Native heritage. A professional art educator who had studied Native art extensively, Dunn developed and encouraged among her students a style of painting she had carefully formulated. This distinctive style of representation drew on rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs), Southwest kiva painting, Plains hide painting and 22

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other Native North American pictorial traditions. Its most salient characteristics, such as flat representation and little indication of background, were consonant with the work of the San Ildefonso Self-Taught Group and the Native painters who worked with DeHuff at the Santa Fe Indian School. Other defining features of Dunn’s Studio Style painting included the surrounding of figures with dark outlines; lack of use of Western conventions of perspectival rendering, resulting in a very shallow space with little illusion of depth; frontal and profile views of figures; and a pastel color palette. The formula for Native painting developed by Dunn was very successful. Artists who worked with her came primarily from the Pueblo and Navajo communities, but others came from as far away as the Plains. Many went on to long and very successful professional art careers. Among her most famous students, all of whom are represented in Transcending Duality, were Houser, Nailor, Begay, Quincy Tahoma (Navajo) and Andrew Tsihnahjinnie (Navajo). Artists who worked with Dunn by and large adhered to the formula she established for Native painting. However, some rebelled, finding Dunn’s aesthetic too restrictive. While the majority of the paintings in this exhibit conform to the tenets Dunn established, works by Allan Houser and Harrison Begay stand out as different. In Apache Girl’s Adolescent Ceremony (1938), Houser depicts a young

Top: Santa Clara Mountain Sheep Dance by Fred Kabotie

Northern AZ Mt Living Magazine | November 2018  
Northern AZ Mt Living Magazine | November 2018