March 20, 1936
The exhibition of paintings by forty-seven young American Indian boys and girls from the United States School, Santa Fe, New Mexico, now current in the Gallery for Living Artists, Brooklyn Museum, (March 21–April 12) will be a revelation to elementary and high school teachers and students of painting in the East. Working sometimes in earth colors which they have made themselves, sometimes with show card colors, painting usually on paper ranging in tint from white through a variety of hues to black, but sometimes on sand panels of their own invention--these young painters achieve an almost uniformly high level of fine draftsmanship and decorative quality.
Most of the pictures are designed in flat decorative patterns either suggested by or directly based on their ceremonial sand paintings. They are very sure in the deft placing of forms and colors and in the contrast of values, highly successful in suggesting movement, as keen as the prehistoric cave painters in their delineation of the anatomy of animals, especially horses. They are not quite so much interested in human anatomy for the most part and make their people childishly stiff and doll-like even when they definitely do suggest with great accuracy the rhythm and action of the figure as a whole. Some of them though have been more interested than others in faces and figures, but the interest is always expressive. It is the character of expression or movement that they evidently care about.
All of them are most meticulous in their detail of ceremonial and other costume and regalia. Many of the pictures depict episodes in dances and other ceremonies. Many others show episodes of daily life--games, hunting, making pottery, weaving, agriculture, feasting, etc. A few make no pretense of realism but content themselves with setting down the old decorative and ceremonial symbols in the new medium of pigment and paper. This content gives the exhibition special interest for the student of Indian customs.
In an exhibition of such uniform excellence it is difficult to select individual artists for mention, but the following have each contributed groups of really notable paintings with something of individual quality within the general racial manner: Harrison Bengay (Navajo), Jose J. Garcia (Santa Domingo Pueblo), Ha–So–De (Navajo), Allen Houser (Oklahoma Apache), Keahbone (Kiowa), Gerald Nailor (Navajo), Po-Qui (Santa Clara Pueblo), Andy Tsihnahjinnie (Navajo), Um-Pah (Omaha), Toitsie (Hopi), Waka (Zia Pueblo), Sybil Yazzie (Navajo).
A hopi dance mask, four Siatashe jars and five Kacina dolls fromthe Brooklyn Museum Collection are exhibited with the work of the young Indians.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1931 - 1936. 01-03_1936, 043. View Original