New book: Artists of New Mexico Traditions: The National Heritage Fellows, By Michael Pettit ’72 (Museum of New Mexico Press)
The author: Pettit, who lives in Santa Fe, is a poet and National Endowments for the Arts Fellow. Among his books is Cowden Ranch, Riding for the Brand: 150 Years of Cowden Ranching, a history of his family’s ranch. He produced a documentary video — Living Traditions: Folk Art of New Mexico — as a companion to Artists of New Mexico Traditions. The film premiered in December at the Santa Fe Film Festival.
The book: Since 1982, 15 artists from New Mexico have received National Heritage Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts — the most from any state. Pettit explores the artistic heritage of New Mexico through profiles of these individuals — among them are potters, weavers, storytellers, and musicians. Included in the book are Irvin Trujillo, a seventh-generation Chimayó weaver; woodcarver George López; and Charlie Carrillo, who creates religious paintings and carvings in the santero tradition.
From the book: “Yet, here and now in New Mexico, almost literally in the shadow of nuclear laboratories, a Santa Clara Pueblo woman builds an open fire of wood and dung around a bowl of clay she has dug and shaped and adorned in much the same way her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother did, in this same place. She will tend the fire that fixes the clay finally into a work of art, her own creation and also homage to centuries of tradition. In the flames she says she can see the faces of her ancestors.”