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Corn Maiden

/ Spotlight on the Collection

Corn Maiden<br >2016<br >Jason Garcia<br >Native American Tewa people Santa Clara Pueblo<br >six color screenprint<br >Collection of the Art Fund Inc at the Birmingham Museum of Art Gift of Martha Pezrow AFI492018 © Jason Garcia

In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas Emily Hanna highlights a recent acquisition by artist Jason Garcia for this month’s Spotlight on the Collection. 

This print depicts a young woman dressed in traditional Santa Clara Pueblo regalia. Santa Clara Pueblo is one of 19 Native American Pueblo communities in New Mexico that are home to groups such as the Tewa, Hopi, and Zuni, among others. These groups are descended from Native people who have lived in New Mexico for millennia.

The young woman is dressed as a Corn Maiden for a ceremonial dance – perhaps the feast day of the Pueblo, which takes place in August. She wears a traditional dress, shawl, jewelry, and tableta, or headdress, similar to the tableta on view in the BMA’s Native American gallery.  Rather than depicting the young woman dancing or in a formal, traditional pose, as some early to mid 20th-century Pueblo paintings do, Garcia depicts her as we might see a 21st-century young woman anywhere – sitting with legs crossed, looking at her cell phone, possibly taking a selfie as she takes a break from the dancing.

A satellite dish emerges from the traditional adobe dwelling in the background, and a telephone pole with wires is also on view in the background. The woman checking her phone and the other signs of technology let us know that the lives of Pueblo people are fully contemporary and yet also interwoven with a cultural and spiritual practice that has long roots into previous generations.

This work is currently on view in the special exhibition Ways of Seeing: Portraits in the Bohorfoush Gallery.