indian jewelry

                Native Artist Tonita Peña

                                                             Tonita Pena

                Tonita Peña of Cochiti seems to have acquired a regular following of visitors who dropped by to watch her work,
                some even expressing an interest in buying her art. In a letter to Edgar L. Hewett written in 1921, Peña
                mentioned these admirers and requested that Hewett provide her with a studio space at the Museum of New
                Mexico, since she felt self-conscious about painting in front of an audience. Peña also seems to have enjoyed
                ongoing support from her second husband, Felipe Herrera, who died in 1920, and Epitacio Arquero, whom she
                married in 1922.

                Following Herrera's death, the governor of Cochiti granted her permission to hire others to fulfill her
                agricultural obligations to the Pueblo so that she might be free to paint, providing an income for herself and
                three children. Arquero structured family responsibilities such that Peña could continue to devote herself to her
                art, with older children helping to care for their younger siblings. When questions over the appropriateness of
                her paintings did arise, Arquero, by then governor of Cochiti, provided influential support, and persuaded the
                objectors that her sales violated no community standards.

                Beyond the realm of approbation, in one notable instance, the introduction of a watercolor into the artist's
                community served as the impetus for revitalizing an important aspect of its ritual life. Copyright 2012

                Deats, L. Contemporary Native American Artists. 2012.
                Reno, D. Contemporary Native American Artists. 1995.
                Schaaf, G. American Indian Jewelry I: 1200 Artist Biographies. 2003.
                  While control over the
                  representation of their culture to
                  outsiders was clearly an area of
                  concern for Native communities,
                  the way the new art form was
                  received by their own members
                  must also be factored into its
                  interpretation. There are
                  accounts suggesting that in
                  particular circumstances,
                  paintings created for the external
                  market engaged considerable local
                  interest, apparently satisfying
                  the expectations of family,
                  friends, and neighbors for an art
                  relevant to their own experience.