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From Pottery to Photography: The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

By Kelly Church

In Santa Fe, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) features evolving exhibits that celebrate Native American culture and arts through painting, jewelry, pottery, and other mediums. Of the 65,000 people who visit the museum each year, more than half hail from out-of-state - but many of the artists whose work is featured at the MIAC are local and in-state Native artists. Andrew Albertson, Adult Education Manager at MIAC, says that having access to in-state artists benefits the museum in more ways than one.

"MIAC is fortunate that Santa Fe has so many talented Native artists who can speak about their work, offer demonstrations, and conduct workshops in our museum," Albertson says. "With most of the artists we engage being so close, we are able to affordably offer these opportunities to the public. It's amazing to hear us mentioned in the context of the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, but our programs and collections are truly that special."

Collections at the MIAC include work from all mediums. With two long-term exhibits currently on display and two temporary exhibits, the museum offers variety and channels many voices on behalf of Native American culture. One of the temporary exhibits, "Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley," has been on display since February 2015 and will end mid-January of 2016. Albertson calls this exhibit "extraordinary" for its perspective on the condition of Native American society. "Bradley's works are full of satire, humor, and commentary on the history and current state of Native American affairs in our country."

The second temporary exhibit is "Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning," open through May 2016. With an "extensive collection" of authentic turquoise jewelry, the purpose of the exhibit is to showcase the stone's importance to indigenous people throughout history.

The museum offers special events as well, such as the "Let's Take a Look" program, which invites people to bring in artifacts to be examined by curators. "They especially like a challenging artifact - so the more unusual the better," says Albertson. The program is offered on the third Wednesday of each month. Another unique program brings Pueblo potters into the gallery to work - in what can be an interesting juxtaposition of past and present. "It's fascinating to watch a potter at work, situated in front of pieces sometimes hundreds of years old," Albertson explains.

The museum is founded on the idea that Native American culture has a diverse history represented through art, language, and cultural artifacts. The museum's mission is to inspire the public to appreciate and understand these aspects of the culture, in a state-of-the-art facility that keeps exhibits inviting, engaging and, most importantly, valued.

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