IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Cynthia Chavez Lamar, Member at Large

Cynthia Lamar Chavez

Dr. Cynthia Chavez Lamar grew up in San Felipe Pueblo, NM, which is her father’s home community. Her heritage also includes Hopi/Tewa and Navajo on her maternal side of the family. She is currently the director of the Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) at The School for Advanced Research (SAR) on the Human Experience in Santa Fe. The IARC, a division of SAR, manages a collection of 12,000 Native art objects from the Southwest, and supports programs and seminars focused on art related issues and topics.

Chavez Lamar began her career at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) where she served as an associate curator from 2000–2005. Her major accomplishment during her tenure was leading the development of the inaugural exhibition,
Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities, which currently remains on exhibit at the NMAI on the National Mall in Washington, DC. After five years in DC she moved back to New Mexico, and accepted a position at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) in Albuquerque as the museum director. While there she revitalized the educational programming and exhibits. Much of her work at NMAI and IPCC focused on fostering collaborative relationships and projects among Native peoples, organizations, and institutions. She continues to advance this type of work at IARC.

She received her B.A. from Colorado College, and a M.A. in American Indian Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2001 she completed her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico where she focused on combining her interest in Native art history with museum studies. In 2008 she received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater Colorado College, and in 2009 she was appointed by Governor Richardson to the New Mexico Arts Commission. She also serves on the boards of the Chamiza Foundation and the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies.