The Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts has received a $100,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support a pilot project aimed at revitalizing its Collection Management System. The pilot project will focus on making the database more culturally accurate and inclusive, reflecting multiple perspectives and communities represented within the collection. As part of the pilot program, the Coe Center will collaborate with living artists, relatives, and communities represented in the collection to gather culturally relevant information and narratives. This process will help to ensure that the collection accurately represents and respects Native American cultures and traditions. The Coe Center will facilitate meetings, on-site visits, and documentation through a digital archive process.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Luce Foundation, which will enable us to take an important step towards making our collection more culturally accurate and inclusive,” said Rachel de W. Wixom, Executive Director of the Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts. “We hope this pilot program will serve as a model for similar organizations and contribute to a process that reasserts authorship to Native American artists and community members.”
Clarence Cruz is Tewa from the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, a traditional potter and Tenure Associate Professor in the Art & Art History Department at the University of New Mexico, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate level classes. His accomplishments are many, which he says is a tribute to those who believed in him and gave him the gift of a potter. His continued practice as a Pueblo potter extends to other neighboring Pueblos, where he shares the knowledge of pottery making. It is a gift that was given to me and as my mentors have said and taught me and in return, you too must share that knowledge. “You serve a purpose, function, within a place in your community, just like the pottery you create.”
Cruz has had the honor to work side-by-side with renowned Native artists and scholars in the field of Pueblo Pottery of the Southwest such as, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, School of Advance Research, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and Poeh Culture Center. He has also traveled to other countries outside of the United States engaging with potters in styles, hand build techniques, material use (clays, slips and pigments), firing techniques, designs, connections to clay within a community, function, purpose, and cultural similarities.
A 2020 Recipient of the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, 2012 Awarded “The Lifetime Achievement Allan Houser Legacy Award, Honoring Pueblo Potters”, SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market. In 2023 a participant with the Pueblo Pottery Collective, Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Clay Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, with the School of Advance Research (SAR) and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC). In 2023 invited by Coe Center, Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico as a consultant to look at their collections.
Clarence most resent award in 2023 Honored him with the Research and Creative Works Leadership Award for extraordinary accomplishments in Pueblo Pottery during the Promoted Faculty Reception at the University of New Mexico, In 2023 invited to be part of “Native Soil” in Northern Iraq for two weeks, where he held a weeklong workshop in partnership with the Assyrian community in Bebedeh, Iraq. His next participation will be a seminar in 2024 in Oaxaca, Mexico, with a invite from the University of Arizona (Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society) and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico. In 2009 participated in a Ceramic Faculty Symposium, held in the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, China, sponsored by NCECA, National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
Dr. Michael Lerna, Daniel Johnson, Anson Etsitty, Dr. Avery Denny, and Emery Denny (not pictured)
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As early as she can remember, Brower’s life has been surrounded by art. Her uncle would carve baleen and ivory and make beautiful jewelry. Her grandmother Emily was also an expert seamstress. Brower’s mother learned sewing techniques from her mother Maryjane who had learned from Brower’s grandmother Emily. Then taught Brower those same techniques.
After High School, Brower had her first child. Then took up sewing with her aunt Florence Brower. Florence inspired her to start skin sewing again. Growing up in her community, she learned to skin sew at the age of 13 during her Inupiat Language class. Brower’s aunt had convinced her to enter the Top of the World baby contest they hold every 4th of July. Over the years, Brower continued sewing and eventually started her small business Hallelujah Designs in 2010. Since then, she has changed the name over to Bobby Itta Designs, and now is Arctic Luxe.
In 2015, Brower decided to sign up for a fashion show with the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This was her start in fashion. Since then, she has shown her work all over Alaska, Washington, New Mexico, New York, and Canada.
Itta has work in the permanent collection of The International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She also is an advocate for MMIWGS, and is working on a touring exhibit with the Bunnell Arts Street Center in Homer, Alaska.
An Indigenous-centered space that supports Elders, youth, and emerging artists interested in developing their exhibition readiness. Melissa has been published in the Alaska Humanities FORUM Magazine, First American Art Magazine, Inuit Art Quarterly, and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center’s Learning Lab. She is a founding member of Luk’ae Tse’ Taas (fish head soup) Comics, a new media collective focused on BIPOC representation in printed narratives. Melissa reclaims power for Indigenous peoples through movements of Land Back and what she calls an eclipsing of Land Acknowledgements. Working with settler communities on her traditional homelands, she is actively part of returning land to Indigenous ownership. Melissa has also created a Land Acknowledgement workshop that is aimed at settler labor and acts of reparations.