A Part of the Earth: New Acquisitions at the Millicent Rogers Museum, Part One
A TWO-PART EXHIBITION THAT SHOWCASES THE MILLICENT ROGERS MUSEUM’S NEWEST ACQUISITIONS IN CROSS-CULTURAL DIALOGUE
The Millicent Rogers Museum presents A Part of the Earth: New Acquisitions at the Millicent Rogers Museum as a two-part exhibition to showcase many of the artworks of the Southwest that have joined the permanent collection in the past few years. Part one will be on view from May 25, 2022 through January 8, 2023, and part two will take place from January 18, 2023 through May 14, 2023. The pair of exhibitions situates the arts of the Southwest in cross-cultural dialogue with each other to draw out new conversations between the works in terms of influence, materiality, style, and identity. This dialogue honors both the makers and the legacy of Millicent Rogers, who felt “a part of the earth” when passing by Taos Mountain during her years living in Taos, New Mexico from 1947 until her death in 1953.
New artworks to the museum’s collection include several works by women. Millicent Rogers’ Death of an Airman (ca. 1939-45) is an 18-20k gold statuette that Paul Peralta-Ramos, the museum’s founder and Rogers’ son, kept by his bed after her death. The petite sculpture with outstretched wings makes reference to Rogers’ relationship with Roald Dahl, a love interest who served in the Royal Air Force, which brought him to the United States. The figure reflects Rogers’ aptitude for blending texture with movement in her artistic creations. A feeling of flight between realms comes through in this impressionistic statuette and suggests both Dahl’s role as a pilot in the service and Rogers’ emotive interpretation of his profession.
Movement between worlds also conveys in Anita Rodriguez’s painting, La Santisima de Amber y Las Abejas (2018), as an ofrenda, or offering, to Michlatecuitzli, an ancient Mexica goddess. La Santisma is the androgenous goddess of the underworld and acts as a healer who promotes community. Rodriguez uses a palette of purples and yellows to evoke the power of this figure to both protect her followers and guide pathways into togetherness and cooperation. As an ofrenda, the painting needs to be fed for the goddess’ nourishment and to invoke blessings. Rodriguez, a painter and enjarradora, or adobe plasterer, practices an arts of stewardship.
Another important addition is a multi-stone and inlaid belt buckle in gold by Hopi artist Sonwai, or Verma Nequatewa, the niece of avant-garde jewelry artist Charles Loloma (Hopi). A skilled goldsmith, Sonwai expands upon particular styles established by her predecessors, like her uncle, who influenced generations of Native jewelry artists from the 1960s onward. Made at a smaller scale, the buckle makes a subtle, yet powerful statement. The composition reflects a mesa sky, punctuated by a turquoise circle. Sonwai, a leading maker of Native jewelry, is one of her uncle’s select proteges who passes his legacy forward through the lens of her experiences.
As a vessel made of local materials, Taos Pueblo artist Angie Yazzie’s micaceous clay jar embodies this area–the place of the Red Willows as home to the Tiwa peoples. The artwork features a sculpted bear figure in relief, inlaid with turquoise. The combination of these elements describes the interconnections between all beings here and the value of the stories, teaching, and healing that each provides. The jar reflects water as the force of life merged with the clay to give form to a vessel of support. Yazzie’s pottery carries vitality between generations.