Where There Is No Name for Art: Art of Tewa Pueblo Children

Feb 15th, 1997 | By | Category: 8-4: Racism, Media Reviews

Text and photographs by Bruce Hucko
School of American Research, Santa Fe, N.M., 1996

Review by Gloria Emerson

This book showcases Tewa children artists from five northern New Mexico pueblos who draw, paint, and share their village-wise experiences and observations with Bruce Hucko, their “art coach.”  One day they are dressing to go to school, and the next day, dressing for the great dances of their villages.

The chapter on “naming” is heart-warming. The children know their names are beautiful gifts from their elders; their comments mirror self-confident Tewa youth.

Bruce Hucko is writer, photographer, and art teacher who captures his students’ playful visualizations of Tewa life. The art of these students might have been trivialized under a less sensitive, less skilled instructor. Unfortunately, with the dwindling of funds for Indian education, art programs are cut first. To fill the void many Indian schools offer a few minutes of art a week, often integrated with other classes. Some of these art classes themselves inadvertently trivialize the talents of students and perpetuate the regurgitation of tired Indian art icons.

This is not the case with There is No Name for Indian Art. It clearly is an example of good art teaching–children have talent and wisdom to share with the world; and, in this book, their wisdom is colored and painted with their very special brand of humor and insight. I plan to use the book as an example of sensitive Indian art education as I visit Indian schools in the Southwest.

Gloria J. Emerson, Dine’ (Navajo), is director of education for Southwestern Association for Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Bruce Hucko’s book on Navajo children’s art was published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco in 1996. A Rainbow at Night: The World in Words and Pictures by Navajo Children, 44 pages, 23 full page color illustrations.

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