Crossing Paths: Beadwork from the Millicent Rogers Museum and the E. Irving Couse Collection has opened and focuses on the history of beadwork in northern New Mexico–an art form not typically associated with the Southwest.
The diverse community of Taos, New Mexico has acted as a center for cross-cultural interactions and exchange for centuries, if not longer. Before and after the arrival of the Spanish into the region, Taos Pueblo was a significant center for trade between the Pueblo communities to the south and the tribal nations of the Plains to the north.
In addition, several Native nations from Oklahoma and Texas have ancestral ties to northern New Mexico, and have interacted and traded with the Indigenous communities in and around Taos. By the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, Anglo-traders had entered the scene, and the introduction of the Santa Fe Railway and their train cars full of curious tourists brought a substantial market for any and all Native American-made products. The artistic styles and subjects of the Taos Society of Artists, made popular by the Santa Fe Railway, inspired even more travelers to visit the region and collect fine Native-made art, such as pottery and beadwork.
The majority of the beadwork from this exhibit dates from 1880-1910, which is a significant date range because it marks a key moment in time when traditional, or utilitarian, objects were commodified and given a new purpose as a source of income for Native American communities.
Finely crafted beaded works that were collected by Millicent Rogers’ youngest son and the founder of the MRM, Paul Peralta-Ramos, are paired with items collected by the painter and first president of the Taos Society of Artists, E. Irving Couse. These items presumably originate from Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, and as far north as the Dakotas and beyond.
Crossing Paths examines the history of how this art form made its way into northern New Mexico through trade connections with the north and the cultural interconnectivity that has since ensued. By featuring works from the Couse collection, the exhibit also demonstrates how the use of Native American-made objects in the paintings produced for the promotional purposes of the Santa Fe Railway helped create and inspire a thriving market for Native American art in the Southwest.
This exhibit will be on view through Jan. 31, 2017. Visit the MRM website for more information.