Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

‘To Utilize That Which Surrounds Us':
Ponca’s Teaching Philosophy

Traditional Techniques instructor Wendy Poca adjusts a shirt, ca. 1980's. IAIA Archives.

Ponca taught Traditional Techniques, Fiber Arts, and Fashion courses at IAIA for a decade. She explained, “[These courses] transcend the normal art school curriculum in that, as Indians, we are furthering tradition. As we evolve culturally within a multi-cultured environment, we are doing and creating as we have for hundreds… even thousands… of years; utilizing that which surrounds us symbolically, economically, and fashionably.”

Ponca believed that fashion and art played a central role in continuing many cultural practices. As the new fashion instructor, Ponca expanded the clothing course options at IAIA, increased and improved the student fashion shows, and changed the face of Native fashion forever. Like Josephine Wapp, Ponca allowed her students to determine how much their pieces drew on traditional or contemporary influences.