Pablita Velarde

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Pablita Velarde
Tse Tsan

(1918-09-19)September 19, 1918
Died January 12, 2006(2006-01-12) (aged 87)
Nationality American (Santa Clara Pueblo)
Education Dorothy Dunn, Santa Fe Studio Art School
Known for American Indian painting, Pueblo art
Awards Palmes Académiques
Two versions of Pablita Velarde's signature.jpg

Pablita Velarde (September 19, 1918 – January 12, 2006) born Tse Tsan (Tewa: "Golden Dawn")[1] was an American Pueblo artist and painter.

Early life and education

Velarde was born on Santa Clara Pueblo near Española, New Mexico on September 19, 1918.[2][3] After the death of her mother, when Pablita was about five years old, she and two of her sisters were sent to St Catherine's Indian School in Santa Fe. At the age of fourteen, she was accepted to Dorothy Dunn's Santa Fe Studio Art School at the Santa Fe Indian School and was one of the first women.[4] There, she became an accomplished painter in the Dunn style, known as "flat painting". In her early classes she befriended artist Tonita Peña, who influenced her style.[5]


Velarde's early paintings were exclusively watercolors, but later in life she learned how to prepare paints from natural pigments using a process similar to, but not the same as fresco secco. She used these paints to produce what she called "earth paintings". She obtained pigments from minerals and rocks, which she ground on a metate and mano until the result was a powdery substance from which she made her paints.

In 1939, Velarde was commissioned by the National Park Service, under a grant from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), to depict scenes of traditional Pueblo life for visitors to the Bandelier National Monument. Following her work at Bandelier, Velarde went on to become one of the most accomplished Native American painters of her generation, with solo exhibitions throughout the United States, including in her native New Mexico, as well as in Florida and California.

In 1960, she published a book which features six Tewa tribal stories, "Old Father the Story Teller".[6][7]

Basketmaking, c. 1940, by Pablita Velarde

In a 1979 interview she said, "Painting was not considered women's work in my time. A woman was supposed to be just a woman, like a housewife and a mother and chief cook. Those were things I wasn't interested in."[8]

Velarde's work is exhibited in public and private collections including the Bandelier National Monument museum, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Avery Collection at the Arizona State Museum, the Ruth and Charles Elkus Collection of Native American Art, and in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Margarete Bagshaw founded in 2012 the Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women dedicated to her grandmother's legacy as well as other female Native American artists in Santa Fe, however it closed in 2015 when Margarete passed away.[4][9][10]

Personal life

In 1942, Pablita married Herbert Hardin, a graduate of the University of California who she had known for some time.[11] The couple had three children and lived in the Sandia Mountains outside of Albuquerque in New Mexico.[11] Her daughter, Helen Hardin, and her granddaughter Margarete Bagshaw became prominent artists in their own right.[12]

Awards and honors

In 1953, she was the first woman to receive the Grand Purchase Award at the Philbrook Museum of Art’s Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Painting.[8] In 1954 the French government honored Velarde and eleven other Native American artists and craftsman with the Palmes Académiques for excellence in art, this was the first foreign honors paid to Native American artists.[13] The other artists awarded this honor included; Harrison Begay, Allan Houser, Marie Martinez, Awa Tsireh, Velino Herrera, Joe H. Herrera, Severa Tafoya, Ambrose Koannorse, Andrew Tsihnahjinnie, Fred Kabotie, and James Kewannywtewa.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "Pablita Velarde on Native American Authors". Internet Public Library (IPL), The iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology,. Drexel University. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  2. ^ Flynn, Katheryn A., ed. ‘’Treasures on New Mexico Trails: Discover New Deal Art and Architecture’’, Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1995 p.274
  3. ^ ""Woman's Work": The Art of Pablita Velarde". The Messanger. Wheelwright Museum. 1992. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  4. ^ a b Chapin McGill, Greta (2013). "The Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts". Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  5. ^ "In The Spirit of Tradition: Three Generations of Women Artists". The Folk Art Society of America. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  6. ^ "Old Father Storyteller by Pablita Velarde". Adobe Gallery, Santa Fe. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  7. ^ Farris, Phoebe (1999). Women Artists of Color: A Biocritical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 107. ISBN 0313303746.
  8. ^ a b c "PABLITA VELARDE: Born TSE TSAN, an American Painter". THE CALLA LILY DIALOGUES. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  9. ^ Quintana, Chris (2013). "Margarete Bagshaw, 1964-2015: Woman from line of iconic Native artists made own mark with modernism". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  10. ^ Jadrnak, Jackie. "Museum featuring Native women's artwork is shutting its doors in Santa Fe". Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  11. ^ a b Dunn, Dorothy (1952-11-01). "Pablita Velarde: Painter of Pueblo Life" (PDF). El Palacio, Volume 59, Number 11. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  12. ^ Oxford, Andrew (2016-03-23). "Artist's children file malpractice suit in estate battle". The Santa Fe New Mexican.
  13. ^ a b c "Palmes Academiques". Arizona Republic. August 17, 1954. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  14. ^ "The Award Winners". New Mexico Museum of Art. Archived from the original on 9 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  15. ^ Kiah, Hope. "Velarde, Pablita". Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  16. ^ "WCA Past Honorees". Retrieved 2018-09-06.


External links

  • Pablita Velarde artwork at Bandelier National Monument
  • Oral history interview with Pablita Velarde, 1965 September 29, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
  • Pablita Velarde Interview, Art Journal, Vol. 53, No. 1, Art and Old Age (Spring, 1994), Sally Hyer and Pablita Velarde, DOI: 10.2307/777538
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