3 Santa Fe art institutions celebrating Kiva New
A woman models a dress made by Lloyd Kiva New. Three Santa Fe art institutions are celebrating the life and work of the late Cherokee artist. MUSEUM OF NEW MEXICO
A man models a sports shirt made by Lloyd Kiva New. Three Santa Fe art institutions are celebrating the life and work of the late Cherokee artist. MUSEUM OF NEW MEXICO
The late Cherokee artist Lloyd Kiva New in the textile-printing studio with an Institute of American Indian Art student, circa 1965. KAY V. WIEST/IAIA ARCHIVES
SANTA FE, N.M. – This year is the centennial of the birth of the late Cherokee artist Lloyd Kiva New, and three Santa Fe arts institutions are celebrating this anniversary in style.
Locally, New, who died in 2002, is known as the Institute of American Indian Art’s first artistic director. Yet nationally, Native people refer to him as the “Godfather of Native Fashion.”
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the New Mexico Museum of Art will each present an exhibition in 2016 focusing on New’s contributions to contemporary Native culture. Additionally, the three institutions are planning a symposium, multiple lectures, panel discussions, fashion show, gala and 100th birthday party.
For the past two years, the museums have worked to honor New’s iconic status with items on view from their respective holdings, from his widow Aysen New’s collection and items rarely on public display from important private collections.
Opening first is the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art’s “Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design and Influence,” which draws on three themes of his legacy. The art aspect includes paintings by New from his personal collection, completed between 1938-95, many never before shown in a museum or gallery. The design portion presents the artist as an innovator of Native Modernism through fashion and textile design in an interpretive reproduction of the Kiva Studio – New’s successful 1950s showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona. The influence aspect features more than 40 printed textiles created by IAIA students during the 1960s and 1970s under New’s artistic direction – drawn from the permanent collection of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
Additionally, patrons will be able to “create” designs based on New’s work through an interactive display. IAIA officials said they hope to illuminate New’s artistic abilities, successful fashion career and profound impact on contemporary Native art. A soft opening for the exhibition was scheduled for Jan. 22 and will run through July 31. Lloyd Kiva New: Art will remain open until Sept. 1. The exhibit’s official opening and reception will be held Feb. 18 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s career retrospective “A New Century: The Life and Legacy of Cherokee Artist and Educator Lloyd ‘Kiva’ New,” is slated for Feb. 14 to Dec. 30.
The exhibit is a look into New’s life from his beginnings in Oklahoma to the burgeoning days at IAIA. In between he strides the decks of the USS Sanborn during World War II and the halls of the Art Institute of Chicago. Opening successive and successful boutiques and craft centers in the gleaming post-war enclave of Scottsdale. New was a pioneer in the worlds of fashion, entrepreneurship and Native art instruction. His vision of cultural studies and creative arts education continues to influence and inspire. Through personal recollections, photos, archival documents and objects pour la couture, the exhibit reviews the life of this American Indian visionary.
The New Mexico Museum of Art’s exhibit “Finding a Contemporary Voice: The Legacy of Lloyd Kiva New and IAIA,” slated for May 20 to Oct. 10, showcases artwork by former and present IAIA faculty and alumni demonstrating the contribution these artists have made to the larger field of contemporary art. Taking a group portrait of IAIA faculty and the legacy of the institution’s first art director as starting points, this exhibition includes work by IAIA faculty and alumni from the 1960s to the present. In his teaching, New encouraged looking at innovative techniques and forms as a path to creating contemporary Indian art.
Additionally, IAIA and MIAC will jointly present a symposium, “The Lloyd Kiva New Centennial Convocation” in October. The convocation will be an interdisciplinary look at the contemporary Native art movement. Other activities planned include fashion shows, panel discussions, lectures, a Veterans Day event and additional special programming in conjunction with Indian Market in August.
IAIA will also offer the class “Lloyd Kiva New and the Contemporary Native Art Movement” in the Spring 2016 semester, taught by IAIA archivist Ryan Flahive and guest lecturers.
New earned a degree in art education from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1938. He taught painting at the Phoenix Indian School until enlisting in the Navy in 1941. Upon returning to Phoenix after World War II, he became a charter member of the Arizona Craftsmen cooperative, a group of artists who helped develop Scottsdale into a western center of handcrafted arts. New took the trade name “Kiva” in 1946, and the Kiva Studio built an affluent clientele and earned national acclaim for his handbags, clothing and printed textiles throughout the 1950s.
In 1962, New changed his career path by serving as the IAIA’s first art director until 1967, then as the school’s president until 1978. In 1988, he returned to serve as interim president, finally becoming president emeritus.
Although officially retired, New continued to be active in the Native arts community, serving on the Indian Arts and Crafts board, as well as the boards of national museums, and continued writing and speaking worldwide until his death in 2002. He had a broad, humanistic approach to the arts, stressing creative links to the traditional arts but urging students not to be bound by them and to reject the stereotypical notions of American Indian art and culture.