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AThe School for Advanced Research’s collection inspires artists — and it's open to the public for tours broken pot at a 1922 Santa Fe dinner party inspired the creation of what is now one of the most significant collections of Southwest Native American art. A hundred years ago, the Pueblo Pottery Fund formed to preserve the vessels that inspired its name. Later, the mission expanded to include other art forms, such as jewelry and basketry. In 1978 the newly established and renamed Indian Arts Research Center found a permanent home at the School of American Research (now the School for Advanced Research). As Elysia Poon, Indian Arts Research Center director, notes in her essay for the exhibition Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery, “It is important to note that the premise of the Pueblo Pottery Fund, though wellintentioned, was unquestionably presumptuous and paternalistic. That said, the hope of the original founders that the collection would be utilized for study and inspiration was admirable and continues to this day.”

Since 1987 more than 3,000 Native American artists, students, elders, and future and current museum professionals have studied the archives. Many Indigenous peoples believe the historic items are living entities — thus they converse and commune with the pieces. The artistic fellows use this deep well to inspire their contemporary works. For example, during his 2009 fellowship, Ulysses Reid (Zia Pueblo) viewed the paintings of his grandfather Andres Galvan (Zia Pueblo) to inspire contemporary pottery designs. Both artists’ creations are now part of the archives.

The 12,000-piece collection includes the delicate, thin-walled pots of master potter Lucy Lewis (Acoma Pueblo), storytellers from Helen Cordero (Cochiti Pueblo), and the now famous highly polished black ware of Maria and Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo). It also includes rugs, clothing and footwear, paintings, basketry, and sculpture.

The IARC doesn’t customarily exhibit its collection — Grounded in Clay is the first exception. However, the IARC also welcomes the public to examine the vast collection, which is stored on open shelving for easy viewing in climate-controlled rooms, during weekly tours. Docents lead hourlong tours (reservations and proof of COVID-19 vaccination required) on Fridays at 2 p.m. The cost is $15 a person or $20 a person for a private group tour. The IARC offers tours and hands-on programming at no cost to tribal members and to children attending Indian schools. Call 505-954-7205 to reserve. —AMB






Santa Fe New Mexican