Robert Abeyta Memorial Mentorship in the Arts

Traditional cultural arts are the medium for cultural practice. Worldview, relationships with nature, and language are learned through the cultural arts. In Taos Pueblo’s history, a wide range of cultural arts, both utilitarian and decorative were integrated with everyday lifeways. The arts are also important to the traditional trade custom, where relationships with other tribes resulted in an increased food, materials, tools, and arts supply.

OONA Heritage 5

Input from planning participants recommends a teaching style congruent with tribal inter-generational and multi-level mentoring. Art-making is traditionally taught in the family. This learning style would involve focusing on different age groups, mixing the levels—beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Tribal cultural center teaching programs, the family style of teaching is often “jump started” through inter-generational classes at the cultural center.

The cultural arts taught are traditional arts of Taos Pueblo and are used for traditional cultural activities. This program focuses on preserving the traditional cultural arts of the village, such as the arts of micaceous pottery, traditional buckskin sewing, red willow basket-making, jewelry-making, and leather work (moccasins, knife sheath, pouches).and traditional clothing. The jewelry program offers an introductory class for beginners ages 13 to 19 years of age. Intermediate and advanced technique classes are offered to adults and senior citizens.

The Red Willow Arts class includes red willow basket classes as well as a “grow our own” class to create instructors to carry this class forward to family and others in the community, in the traditional way. Approximately 15 adults and the same number ages 13 and up are taught annually.

An important outcome of this program is fostering cultural pride, which in turn raises self-esteem. These art forms help students in their development as Pueblo artists, who produce quality art for sale through student exhibitions, as well as arts and craft shows.

Former students have gone on after the training to become excellent artists in their own style.