Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Ushering in a New Native Chic:
Patricia Michaels

Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo) also studied under Wendy Ponca at IAIA, but also at the Chicago Art Institute, following in the footsteps of mentor Lloyd Kiva New. Michaels is interested in the entire process of clothing making: she begins each piece like a blank canvas with white fabric on which she paints unique designs and silkscreens her patterns. She then constructs, or sculpts, these fabrics into garments. She experiments with new silhouettes and forms, and her clothing is loose-fitting and blurs body outlines and shape.

In 2010, Michaels was the unanimous winner of the Santa Fe Indian Market’s Textiles Classification, and she received the Best of Classification award competing against traditional Native textiles. The first time that a contemporary design beat out a traditional design, Michaels’ award demonstrates that it an exciting time for Native fashion as it claims its spot as alongside other textile methods a valid art-form.

Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo) silkscreens patterns onto fabric for a dress, ca. 1994. Courtesy of the Archives of IAIA.