Art

Native American children’s art featured at Stables Gallery

Works are from a TCA-sponsored workshop at Taos Pueblo’s Oo-oo-nah Art and Cultural Center

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 8/7/19

For the first time in the history of Taos Pueblo’s Oo-oo-nah Art and Cultural Center, there will be a student art exhibition in the Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts.

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Art

Native American children’s art featured at Stables Gallery

Works are from a TCA-sponsored workshop at Taos Pueblo’s Oo-oo-nah Art and Cultural Center

Posted

For the first time in the history of Taos Pueblo’s Oo-oo-nah Art and Cultural Center, there will be a student art exhibition in the Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts.

The show is slated to open with a reception Friday (Aug. 9), 4-6 p.m., at the Stables Gallery, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free and everyone is invited. It will be on view only until Sunday (Aug. 11).

The exhibit will showcase the work of Native American students from Oo-oo-nah that were created in a papermaking and printmaking workshop taught by Jane Farmer. Oo-oo-nah means “child” in Tiwa, the native language of Taos Pueblo. The art and cultural center operates according to a mission to sustain the traditional and contemporary lifeways of the Taos Pueblo community.

Members of the Book Arts Group in Taos, Carol and David Farmer, Sara Jean Gray and Joy Purcell, also worked with teachers Rose Marie Lujan, Ronnie Martinez, Viola Romero and Darilynn McClure (not a teacher) at the center.

Ilona Spruce, whose daughter, 10-year-old Sadie Pepion, participated in the workshop, said, “The camp gives the kids a different outlook and perspective The teachers Rose, Ronnie and Viola create a caring environment that allows the kids to grow and maneuver on their own, opening another door ... My daughter brought home paper she made in the workshop – the experience for the children is like hanging out with your aunties, and we hope to see it continue.” 

Tempo asked Farmer about the workshop, her background, the choice of medium and how the exhibition evolved. Here is what she said:

How does a workshop like this support the Oo-oo-nah Art and Cultural Center’s mission to “sustain the traditional and contemporary life ways of the Taos Pueblo community”?

Although neither papermaking nor printmaking was traditionally practiced at the Taos Pueblo, both are contemporary means for young and old artists at the Taos Pueblo and elsewhere to express themselves and tell their stories. Since the 1960s, printmaking has been an important medium at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe through the teachings of Seymour Tubis, Fritz Scholder and others.

Why paper- and printmaking as a medium?

The Oo-oo-nah program emphasizes storytelling and expression as a way for the children to learn about and connect with their culture. Printmaking and papermaking are both valuable media for telling stories.

Were there surprises or revelations during the workshop?

One activity was for the children to collect natural dried plants to create their own printing plates. They made some wonderfully creative images that we then printed along with monotypes on the press. I was also delighted with how they learned to form the paper sheets and how much they enjoyed the physicality of the papermaking process.

What is your background?

I am a retired paper historian and independent curator and producer of international exhibitions and exchanges about hand papermaking, printmaking and the book arts.

How did the workshop come to be?

Colette LaBouff, the director of the TCA, told the curatorial committee that the Oo-oo-nah Center would have an exhibition in the Stables Art Gallery this August, as part of TCA Presents. Colette asked if any committee members would be interested in teaching some workshops for the children as part of their summer program. Robbie Steinbach and Sarah Hart, both printmakers, and I all offered to do two days of workshops in July.

We visited the center and learned that they have a very interesting historic press that had been involved in the Mexican Revolution. The teachers at the center were interested in having the children learn to make prints on the center’s press. The workshops expanded to include introducing the children to hand papermaking, Western style and Eastern style, as is still practiced in the Himalayas. My colleague and friend from our PaperRoad/Tibet project, Tom Leech, is the director if the Palace Press at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. Tom and his wife offered to bring paper pulp and molds up for the papermaking day. His colleague James Bourland also came up to look at the press and help.

For more information on the show, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052. The Oo-oo-nah Art and Cultural Center is located at 316 Veterans Highway at Taos Pueblo. Call (575) 779-6294.

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