Respected Navajo artist will speak about the role of Native American women in the arts today
In conjunction with 2015 Santa Fe Indian Market, Sorrel Sky Gallery will host a brunch and reception with respected Navajo sculptor Pablita Ta-Nez-Bah Abeyta on Monday, August 24 from 9:00-10:30 a.m. at the Santa Fe gallery. Abeyta will talk about her life and the important role of Native American women artists in today’s culture.
Abeyta’s reputation as both a Navajo sculptor and an advocate for all Native American people is well known. After completing her graduate degree from the University of New Mexico, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she became a lobbyist for the Navajo Nation. Abeyta then worked for then-Colorado Congressman Ben Nighthorse Campbell to help establish the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and then served as a professional staff member with the Interior Committee’s Office of Indian Affairs. Later, serving a ten year stint as a Congressional liaison for the Smithsonian Institution’s Government Affairs Office, Abeyta worked tirelessly to help found the museum, which hosted the largest gathering of Native American communities in history at its opening in 2004. She has since retired from government service.
During her government career, Abeyta remained active as a sculptor, making hand-coiled clay figures of serene Native women dressed in flowing traditional dress, adorned with actual beaded jewelry, shells, smoked deer and elk skin, feathers and often holding ceremonial objects. “My figurines are women because women have inspired me,” Abeyta said. “In addition to many of my more traditional pieces, the female figurines sing, talk, and reflect the seasons and Navajo spiritual ceremony. I am making a statement with my art about the importance of family, community and my heritage.”
Sorrel Sky Gallery owner, Shanan Campbell Wells, offered, “Pablita is an amazing woman and artist. Her work flows from an authentic gift and from her belief of women as healers and visionaries. She is an inspiration to me.”
Reflecting on her life, Abeyta offered, “I am now an elder and I have been put on this planet to help other women and be a role model. I am a strong woman and I surround myself with strong women.” Her mother Sylvia Ann was a Quaker and a ceramicist and her father Narcisco Ha-So-De Abeyta, was a world-renowned Navajo artist who studied under Dorothy Dunn at the Indian Arts Institute in Santa Fe. She is the sister of acclaimed Navajo painter and jeweler Tony Abeyta, the late figurative sculptor Elizabeth Abeyta, and sculptor, painter and jeweler Alice Warder Seely.
Sorrel Sky Gallery’s fresh approach to Western art presents a select collection of contemporary and traditional fine art and jewelry for the discerning collector. Sorrel Sky Gallery was founded in Durango, CO in 2002 and opened its Santa Fe, NM location in 2014. It represents over 75 painters, sculptors and jewelers including bronze artist Star Liana York, painter Billy Schenck, and Ben Nighthorse, among others.