HISTORY OF INDIAN ARTS EDUCATION IN SANTA FE, 1890-1962
“The author has researched and documented the history of Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Arts, a school she has been personally involved with. Easy-to-read and comprehensive narrative contributes to an understanding of all Indian education from 1890 to the 1970s. Well organized, with a detailed list of references and a good index. Those involved with Indian education (or with this school) should be delighted with this publication.”
—Sharon Johnson, The Book Report, November/December 1988
“Winona Garmhausen’s book focuses on the history of the Institute of American Indian Arts. That institution was created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to specialize in art training during the 1930s. Housed at the old Santa Fe Indian School, it was one of the first Indian schools created to focus national attention on the potential of specialized art education for Native Americans.
“The author describes the Santa Fe Indian School as the first formal studio approach to art instruction. Numerous quotations from the American Indian Historical Research Project and the author’s personal interviews are quoted at length. These quotations, describing student experiences, give the reader insight into student life.
“The descriptions of the earlier Santa Fe Indian School vividly portray the paternalistic atmosphere that existed as a result of misguided interest in American Indian culture on the part of non-Indians. The program, however, resulted in the emergence of a particular style of painting known as the Santa Fe Studio Movement. This style derived from tribally-evolved designs previously found on items such as basketry or pottery.
“At IAIA the emphasis was placed more on exotic aspects of Indian life, and this tended to dominate the art of the self-taught Indian painters. This painting style gained an impressive following of young students who went on to become nationally known as Indian artists. The author brings the history of IAIA up to 1978, giving a detailed view of its administrative goals and objectives. This is one of the first books to be published on this topic and the author is to be commended on the extensive use of interviews and primary sources.”
—Lynn T. Brittner, The Western Historical Quarterly, August 1989
“An elusive and complex topic, Indian arts education is fraught with consensus and controversy, feast and famine, saints and sinners. Winona Garmhausen focuses on both the myth and the reality that surround the development of a training center for young Indian artists. From a feeble heritage evolving out of the United States Indian Industrial School in Santa Fe between 1890 and 1932, continuing through many years within the Santa Fe Indian School from 1930 to 1962, and culminating with its recent existence as the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, Garmhausen describes how dedication and vision encouraged the preservation of Native American culture.
“Revealing the conflict faced at every turn by the stalwart advocates of Indian arts education, Garmhausen’s major villains become the Bureau of Indian Affairs, whose regional offices controlled the purse strings; the federal bureaucracy, which hindered staffing efforts for an advanced post-secondary curriculum; and the All-Pueblo Council, which resented the progressive loss of control over what it considered to be its school, one which it envisioned as an all-Indian vocational and high school.
“Confrontation grew around the significance of curriculum development for Indian training in the arts, Garmhausen’s major focus. On one side were the advocates of an arts curriculum grounded in Indian culture and history with the goal of a college program based on Indian needs. The opposition saw arts education as an elitist form of catering to students with only an interest in art. It claimed arts education was not productive because only a few would be successful enough to support themselves, and it believed that training in the arts was suitable only for welfare and problem children, a last attempt to correct community situations.
“The author’s stance is never in question, such as when she points to the tumultuous early years evolving into something of a ‘golden period’ during the early and middle sixties when domestic and foreign news media promoted the school’s program and faculty members such as Allan and Ann Houser, Louis Ballard, and Fritz Scholder gained renown in the art world.
“Garmhausen correctly points out the correlation between the tides of fortune affecting the IAIA’s history and the changes in public sensitivity toward cultural pluralism, the rise in Indian militancy with the formation of the American Indian Movement, and the public sense of perceived financial priorities which brought on drastic budget cuts in the late 1970s.
“Gaps still remain in our knowledge of Indian arts education in Santa Fe. Future work on the subject should include discussion and interpretation of the scope of student art work. Even more important is whether specific conclusions can be made regarding the advantage of a separate school for Indian artists or for any other minority group.
“The work is a clarification of the status of the IAIA and its role in the recent history of Indian arts. We learn that the IAIA was not another concealed attempt to absorb the Indian into the dominant society. While not written to be a pivotal work in Indian history, the work does provide material that adds a new depth of understanding to the elusive, somewhat mystical, subject of Indian arts education. In addition, Garmhausen exhibits a talent for clear and concise narrative writing.”
—Robert F. Schrader, New Mexico Historical Review, January 1990