About the Art of the Zuni Exhibit

Jewelry is an important and highly visible manifestation of culture. It functions as an expression of personal identity and aspiration for both the maker and the wearer.

Zuni jewelry and stone carving record complex intercultural influences. At the same time, they stand as expressions of the continuity of ancient cultural traditions rooted in the American Southwest.

For many centuries prior to European contact, America's native peoples made jewelry from stone and shell. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish introduced silverworking to the Americas, and it was adopted by the native peoples of the Southwest who adapted it to existing forms of jewelry produced for both trade and personal use.

From the late nineteenth century and into the early 1940s, Native American jewelry became increasingly recognized as a significant indigenous art form. This period saw the emergence of several individuals who have since become recognized as the "Old Masters" of Zuni art, such as Leekya Deyuse, Teddy Weahkee, Juan Dedios, Horace Iule, Alice Quam, Leo and Daisy Poblano, and Lambert Homer.


In the 1970s, a renaissance in Native American artistic expression took place. During this period, appreciation for an increased range of styles and techniques of jewelry-making and stone-carving grew, and greater numbers of individual artists were recognized. Among Zuni artists, Dan Simplicio, Edward and Madeleine Beyuka, Ellen Quandelacy, Edith Tsabetsaye, Dennis and Nancy Edaakie, Pete and Dinah Gasper, Lena and Rignie Boone, and Edna Leki emerged as the "Modern Masters."


Zuni artists working today proudly trace their lineage to earlier masters. Jewelry-making and stone-carving are family enterprises at Zuni Pueblo, taking place in home-based workshops where all family members, from youngest to oldest, are assigned important and often quite specialized roles in production. With the sharing of designs and techniques that takes place in these workshops, highly distinctive family styles have developed.

This exhibition draws from the full range of twentieth century Zuni jewelry-making and stone-carving. Old Masters, Modern Masters and their descendants are equally represented. Through display of the work of multiple generations, side by side, the continuity of these important cultural practices becomes apparent.


Bracelet - Don Carlos Dewa


Bear Fetish- Stewart Quandelacy

Artists Interviewed
Zuni, New Mexico

October 2006 and March 2007:
Governor Norman Cooeyate
Dale Edaakie
Dennis Edaakie
Debra Gasper
Dinah Gasper
Peter Gasper, Sr.
Veronica Poblano
Dickie Quandelacy
Sandra Quandelacy
Carmelita Simplicio
Dan Simplicio, Jr.
Lydia Simplicio
Noreen Simplicio
Albenita Yunie

Visiting Consultants to KMA

January 19-25, 2003:
Arden Kucate, Tribal Councilman
Leland Kaamasee, Cultural Advisor
Octavius Seowtewa, Cultural Advisor
Eldred Seoutewa, Cultural Advisor
Davis Nieto, Zuni Cultural Resource Enterprise
April 9-12, 2006:
Marian Rodee, Curator Emeritus, Maxwell Museum (NM)
September 5-9, 2006:
Deb Slaney, Curator, Albuquerque Museum (NM)
September 17-21, 2006:
James Enote, Director, A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center (NM)
Dan Simplicio, Jr., Zuni Artist (NM)
October 29 – November 1, 2006:
Kent McManis, Zuni Fetish Expert (AZ)


Participating Researchers


Jennifer McLerran, Curator
Sally Delgado, Curator of Education
Deanna Cook, Curatorial Assistant
Tom Patin, Professor of Art History
Cara Romano, Graduate Curatorial Assistant
Sam Fairchild, Undergraduate Assistant Registrar
Ryan Navaroli, Undergraduate Multimedia Designer
Lauren Marchaza, Graduate Curatorial Assistant
Janice Frisch, Undergraduate Curatorial Assistant
Shawna Pies, Undergraduate Curatorial
Collections Assistant
Eliza Clarke, Undergraduate Native American
Collection Curatorial Assistant
Libby Stachiw, Undergraduate Curatorial Assistant
Rachel Byers, Former Undergraduate
Curatorial Assistant
Nathan Rosson, Undergraduate Multimedia Designer
Kim Kanner, Undergraduate Videographer
Meghan Dillon, Educational Programs Assistant
Mark Earnhart, Educational Programs Assistant
Tiffany Rich, Graduate Education Assistant
Lisa Quinn, School Programs Coordinator