Kachinas In The Classroom
Paintings By Hopi Schoolchildren
Faust Gallery on Canyon Road is proud to announce the soft opening December 15th from 5-7pm and opening on December 16, 2017, of a historic exhibition of Hopi Kachina portraits painted by Hopi schoolchildren shortly after WWII. A retired teacher from the Second Mesa Day School recently came forward and presented a personal collection of beautifully rendered Kachina faces by students that she preserved from her classroom for more than Fifty years. This collection represents a watershed period in Hopi history where during the Fifties newly progressive policies began to recognize Hopi religious practices. After more than a hundred years of a restrictive official policy in which Indian Affairs agents sometimes kidnapped young Hopi children to ship off to distant government schools, Hopi youngsters were not only permitted but encouraged to learn the identities of their sacred kachina figures in their schools. The first authority to identify and evaluate the discovery of these brightly colored kachina faces is Anna Silas who is the curator at the Hopi Museum located in Secontd Mesa Arizona in the center of the Hopi reservation. “These paintings are exceptionally expressive,” says Silas, who has seen more of than her share of Hopi art. “The kids who painted these images were part of the first generation of Hopis who were, in a sense, liberated..” “They didn’t have to feel shamed by identifying their sacred kachinas.” “The paintings represented a kind of renaissance for Hopi young people,” she believes. “Some people forget,” recalls the curator who has maintained the Hopi Museum for almost 40 years. “In 1895 and again in 1905, large groups of Hopi fathers were forcibly removed from their families and villages because they resisted the “Pahana” (white man ) education. “After 19 Hopi fathers spent several months incarcerated in 1895 at the notorious Alcatraz prison,” she recalls “Just ten years later, several more resistors were forcibly removed to the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania where they remained for seven years!” “While we take it for granted that it is so common to practice our kachina faith,”she says, “many of our ancestors fought hard to make these paintings possible.”
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