Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Institute of American Indian Arts

Mountains near Santa FeLast week I had the opportunity to tour the campus of the Institute of American Indian Arts--a four-year tribal college in Santa Fe. IAIA is the only U.S. arts college dedicated to the traditions and culture of the American Indian, and is set on a stunning 140 acres just outside of the city limits. On the day we visited, the layers of mountains circling the campus were snow-covered and the sky was bright blue, creating a wonderful canvas.

The IAIA was founded in 1962, and was first located on the grounds of the Santa Fe Indian School. The Institute includes both the college, and the IAIA museum in downtown Santa Fe.
IAIA Campus, Santa Fe
IAIA Campus, Santa FeAbout 375 students are currently enrolled at the college and they represent roughly 100 different tribes from the mainland U.S. and Alaska.

Over the nearly 50 years of its existence, the IAIA has been home to students from about 90% of the recognized native American tribes. And about 15% of its students are non-natives who've come to IAIA to study native art traditions.

The IAIA's location is ideal for furthering its mission--in Santa Fe, which is the second largest art market in the U.S., and near the 19 native pueblos of New Mexico. In addition, the size and setting of the campus allowed it to be constructed in a way that references and respects native traditions (directions, solstices, etc.), and it is home to native plants and wildlife. On-campus housing includes residences for traditional-age students, as well as family housing units for older students. A new daycare center is expected to open soon.

IAIA Campus, Santa Fe
All facilities are full of native art, and our tour included views of studios and galleries, and art that included painting, metalwork, jewelry, glass, beading, and leatherwork.

Native American Last SupperThis painting by an IAIA student, a Native American version of the Last Supper, was hanging in the Administration building.

Wheel by Bob HaozousThis spinning wheel in the IAIA library is by Apache artist Bob Haozous, son of Allan Houser (whom I've written about in an earlier blog).

One of the highlights of our trip was the welcome our group received in the student learning support center, where we were treated to a snack of hot blue corn meal (in a form somewhere between oatmeal and hot drink); a note on the blackboard in the student lounge area indicated that it was a "blue corn morning". Thus warmed and fortified, we were able to venture back out into the cold to complete our tour of this impressive facility.


steve said...

i have lived in santa fe 14 years - like you taking refuge from the big city, in my case nyc - i have seen this institution develop and grow over the years - it has not been an easy road - but what they have now achieved is wonderful - as pr manager for the nm dept of cultural affairs i come into contact with many artists, and i am so glad that i can count a lot coming from iaia - i would also like to point out that a recent grad who is a very talented artist has opened a gallery on east palace calle fire fox featuring the work of emerging native american artists - and the museum of indian arts and culture works closely with the school through its native underground program (a panel discussion and exhibition) - iaia is a huge asset to santa fe's cultural scene thanks for writing about it - steve cantrell, pr mgr, nm dept of cultural affairs

Anonymous said...

If you are spending any holiday time in Phoenix the Desert Botanical Garden is featuring a wonderful exhibit of Allan Houser sculptures among the superb specimens of desert plants, and you can get a joint ticket for admission to both the garden and the Heard Museum where there is a special exhibit of Houser's work, including paintings and book illustrations. A nice way to take a break from the holiday rush.

SantaFeKate said...

Steve--thanks for your comment and for becoming a "follower" of my blog. I will definitely check out the fire fox gallery on East Palace! Our group (Santa Fe Newcomers) was very impressed with the IAIA campus.

Kate said...

Since Santa Fe tugs at my heart, we'll be staying in a condo there during Feb and March of this year. I definitely will tour the campus. I've driven thru it before but never had a tour. I absolutely LOVE the photo of the Last Supper. Hope your holidays have been full of love and laughter, the two most imp. ingredients in my book. Happy New Year to you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kate, for your write up on visiting IAIA. Come out at 10 am on Jan. 29 for an open house/ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of two more brand new buildings!

SantaFeKate said...

Kate--glad to hear you'll be back in SF! I believe you can just park behind the administration building (rear of the campus from where you enter) and just walk through. We set up our group tour through the Admissions office.

SantaFeKate said...

IAIA--thanks for your comment! I'll let folks know about the ribbon cutting.....