Fine Art Collection
The Fine Arts Collection includes 1,900 works by important Native American and Anglo-American artists, many who lived and worked on the Colorado Plateau.
A strength of the Fine Arts Collection is its holdings of Native American works of art. The Native American artists represented in the collection are important for their individual achievements as well as their association, either as students or faculty, with the Santa Fe Indian School (now the Institute of American Indian Arts) and its influential studio art program. Many of the artists represented in the collection are notable alumni from the height of the School’s influence in the mid-twentieth century. They lived and worked on the Colorado Plateau, the geographical and cultural emphasis of the Museum’s collection, and played important roles in MNA’s annual Hopi and Navajo Festivals and other fine arts programs.
The Native American holdings consist of:
- Works by alumni of the Studio School at the Santa Fe Indian School including Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan), Jack Hokeah, Oscar Howe, Gerald Nailor, Quncy Tahoma, Pablita Velarde
- 543 works by Hopi artists including Neil David, Dr., Oswald Fredericks (White Bear), Anthony Honahnie, Delbridge Honanie, Fred and Michael Kabotie, Linda Lomahaftewa, Willard Joseph Maktima, Waldo Mootzka, Raymond Naha, Dan and Michael Namingha, Dan Namoki,
- 569 works by Navajo artists including Harrison Begay, Robert Chee, R.C. Gorman, David Johns, Quincy Tahoma, Andy Tsinajinnie, Baje Whitethorne, Beatien Yazz (Jimmy Toddy),
- 341 works by pueblo artists from Acoma, Cochiti, Jemez, Picuris, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, San Ildefonso, Taos, Tesuque, Zia and Zuni. Artists represented include Pop Chalee, Duane Dishta, Helen Hardin, Joe Hilario and Velino Shije Herrera, Patrick Swazo Hinds, Wolf Robe Hunt, Charles Lovato, Julian Martinez, Rafael Medina, Tonita Pena, Ben Quintana, Jose D. Roybal, Abel Sanchez, Percy Tsisete Sandy, Pablita Velarde, Romando Vigil, and Tomas Vigil
- 28 by Apache artists mostly by Allan Houser
The Fine Arts Collection also includes works by Anglo-American artists. This collection contains an outstanding body notable for the large number that date from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. Many of the represented artists were among the first to visit and record the landscapes and people of the Colorado Plateau region. Other artists represented in the collection, created works that were utilized by the Santa Fe Railroad for promotional purposes; these works helped establish the public image of the Southwest in the early-twentieth century. Artists represented include Louis Akin, Arthur Best, Carl Oscar Borg, Elbridge Ayer Burbank, Ferdinand Burgdorff, George Elbert Burr, Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, Vincent Colyer, Samuel Colman, Maynard Dixon, William Henry Holmes, Wilson Hurley, William Robinson Leigh, Albert Lorey Groll, Jeffrey Lunge, Ed Mell, Lillian Wilhelm Smith, James G. Swinnerton, and Gunnar Widforss. The collection also contains artwork from contemporary Southwest artists such as Bruce Akin, Doug Atwill, Carol Brown, Rhett Lynch, Merrill Mahaffey, Joella Jean Mahoney, Ed Mell, Clare Romano, Barry Thompson, Doug West, and others.
One of the most important bodies of work in the Fine Arts Collection is that of museum co-founder Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton. Mrs. Colton graduated from the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and exhibited with the Philadelphia Ten for thirty years. As a painter she was known for vibrant colors used in her landscapes of the Colorado Plateau and for her portraits of Native Americans. Cinder Hills (1939), the large diptych Walpi (1914) and Navajo Shepherdess (1918) are among the highlights of her work in the collection which includes:
- 60 works and the only known sculpture carved by Mrs. Colton ("Thelma").
- 145 art tools and supplies used by Mrs. Colton.
Mrs. Colton was an important advocate for art education in schools. The Fine Arts Collections includes the two travel trunks which were sent to reservation and non-reservation schools in the 1930s through the 1950s. Stocked by Mrs. Colton with art supplies, instruction books and examples, these trunks inspired the next generation of artists.
The Fine Arts Collection includes a small collection of 95 sculptures with a notable collection of plaster casts and bronze busts by Emory Kopta.
Although not part of the Fine Arts Collection per se, another valuable body of work in the Museum’s permanent collection includes 194 reproductions of murals that date to the period between 1300 and 1700 from the villages of Awatovi and Kawaika. These prehistoric murals were revealed and documented during excavations conducted by the Peabody Museum (Harvard) during the 1940s. In addition to these mural reproductions, MNA has five original mural fragments that represent one third of the total number (15) salvaged during the 1940s excavations. The murals and reproductions continue to serve as an important resource and inspiration for contemporary Hopi artists.