Pueblo Indian Watercolors from the
National Museum of American Art

Early in this century artists of San Ildefonso Pueblo in northern New Mexico developed a style of painting in watercolor on paper that focused on figures and geometric designs. By the early 1930s this new style was adopted by artists in neighboring pueblos in the Rio Grande valley. The movement, typified by bold color, balanced compositions, and figures painted without shading, perspective or setting, has continued to influence succeeding generations of native painters. The first subjects for these paintings included ceremonial dances, activities of daily life, and adaptations of traditional pottery designs and decorative motifs.

Alice Corbin Henderson, a Chicago poet, began collecting watercolors by Pueblo Indians in 1917, soon after she and her husband, artist William Penhallow Henderson, moved to Santa Fe. Fascinated by the Native cultures, the couple became strong advocates for the paintings of the Pueblo artists. The Henderson's daughter, Alice Henderson Rossin, donated the forty-three works in this exhibition, dating from 1917 to the 1950s, to the organizers of the exhibition, the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.