April 21, 2018: Pueblo Art, Albuquerque

 

At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, we had a chance to see both traditional artworks of the different groups that together are the Pueblos and modern works based on traditional materials or themes. It was a fascinating encounter, and included an opportunity to see young dancers learning and interpreting traditional dances as well.

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The polychrome owls in the title picture are from different pueblos, and were made over nearly a century; the most recent is from 1976. Over and over, it was made clear that while common traditional themes are shared among the different pueblos, they are also shaped in local styles, which change over the years—including in some cases, to conform to what tourists wanted to buy.

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The traditional works, of course, were neither commercial, nor intended purely as 'art.' Rather, they most often served either in religious and community rituals, or served as reminders and teachers of culture.

The three wooden carvings represent some of these themes in modern form.

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The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center was built on land that was part of the one-time Albuquerque Indian School, run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Given that a long-time goal of the Indian schools was to end traditional culture and language, it's perhaps appropriate that the land is now being used to reverse that idea.

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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