Paintings of Pueblo Indians and the Politics of Preservation in the American Southwest


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


This project investigates paintings of Pueblo Indians produced in the 1920s. Painted at a time when the Federal Indian Policy of Assimilation was being vigorously contested, many of these images are imbued with a preservationist perspective. Artists such as Hartley, Sloan, and Blumenschein struggled to find a new visual language for representing the Pueblo people, one that would correspond to their protests against assimilation. Through the efforts of preservationists, a new concept of “Indianness” was popularized; traditional representations of “vanishing” Indians and their objects were displaced by paintings that abstracted the “feel” and rhythm of Indian ritual. This new visual language, with its ideological complexities, permeates Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings of Indian ceremonials.