The National Collection of Contemporary Native Art holds a unique selection of three-dimensional works from a variety of today’s most influential American Indian artists.
In the formative days of the Institute of American Indian arts, sculpture and ceramics were collected from students who are now some of the most renowned Native artists of our time. Therefore, it is no surprise that student work makes up the bulk of this area of the collection. However, pottery by other prominent artists such as Maria Martinez, Lucy Lewis, Otellie Loloma, Jackie Stevens, and Jane Osti can also be found here.
The collection also houses close to 1,000 three-dimensional cultural arts pieces that reinforce the work made after the 1960s. These can be viewed as part of the continuum of innovative artistic expression in Native America. In it, one sees that Native artists have drawn inspiration or are guided by their own communities and cultural backgrounds. For instance, the use of distinctive and “proprietary” designs are one mode of expression that often connect an artist to their cultural background. These can be seen in a wide variety of the collection’s cultural art forms such as baskets, bead work, pottery and more. Some of the strongest pieces in the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts cultural arts collection include work created by Maria Martinez, Margaret Tafoya, Eva Wolfe, Hazel Pete, Big Bow Nelson, Frank Nelson.
In the 1960s, during the birth of the Institute of American Indian Arts, co-founder and Cherokee fashion designer Lloyd Kiva New helped to establish a commercial design studio at the school. The students learned to create silkscreen frames to print on fabric and produce handmade screened fashion, wall hangings and interior design fabrics. Some of these earlier screened works and handwoven treasures were acquired and are now are a part of the Museum’s three-dimensional works. As fashion design continued to be taught at IAIA through the 1980s, some of the fashion industry’s best known artists are now represented in the collection. These include Lloyd Kiva New, Wendy Ponca, Pilar Agoyo, and Marcus Amerman.