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3 Top Museums, Santa Fe to Celebrate Lloyd Kiva New’s 100th Birthday and Legacy

He’s been called the Godfather of Native Fashion and the Father of Modern Indian Art. We artists just called him Lloyd, or Mr. New, and everyone enjoyed calling him President New, of the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Lloyd New (Cherokee) was an artist, a designer and a teacher. He was important and influential in contemporary art and an innovator in fashion and design, he stood at the transition point when Indian crafts became modern Indian Art. Lloyd was directing traffic at that transition, he was the first big Native fashion designer running a successful design studio in Scottsdale, a town he helped grow into a big destination art town. He left at the height of that career to teach.

He recruited and brought in the best Indian artists to become art teachers at the new Institute of American Indian Arts that he had agreed to head, first as art director then as President. He sought out the architects to build the Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre, he fought bureaucrats to be able to teach Indian students fine arts, students who may have been labelled as risks or even unteachable. He was a collector and a motivator, he was a loyal friend and the big uncle.

Lloyd New was, as they say, a man of his time, he graduated from Chicago Art Institute in 1938, taught at the Phoenix Indian School, enlisted in the Navy, served in the Pacific Theatre. He returned to Phoenix and became a charter member of the Arizona Craftsmen, a co-operative of artists that helped to grow Scottsdale into an art town. He took the name “Kiva” upon opening up his own studio in 1946. Kiva Studio built up an affluent clientele and received national attention for his handbags, clothing and printed textiles throughout the 1950’s.

Photo: Courtesy of Lloyd H. New Papers IAIA Archives Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Lloyd Kiva sitting with a variety of handbags from the Kiva Studios_ c. 1955.

The Indian New Deal and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1935 also delivered the Indian Arts and Crafts Board Act which had a difficult beginning. Natives criticized the initial efforts of a national exhibit that had no input and was all collector’s “Indian Art” on loan with no new artwork by contemporary Indian artists and no marketing aspects as was promised. They demanded the government get them more directly involved and eventually things began to change.

That’s when Lloyd New left his high profile design and fashion career to take up a new challenge, art director at the experimental Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The 100th Birthday Celebration

Photo: Courtesy of Lloyd H. New Papers IAIA Archives Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Lloyd Kiva sitting with a variety of handbags from the Kiva Studios_ c. 1955.

Santa Fe will celebrate the legacy of Lloyd Kiva New all year long as 2016 marks his 100th birthday anniversary. Three top museums will offer unique exhibitions, first is IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Art - MoCNA - downtown, the Museum of Indian Art and Culture - MIAC - on “Museum Hill” and the New Mexico Fine Art Museum, downtown in May. The catalog that will combine all three is expected in April.

The MIAC exhibit will open February 13, New Century: the Life and Legacy of Cherokee Artist and Educator Lloyd Kiva New, which tells the story of his life and his art, their show will be divided into five sections: New Lands, Ancient Stories; Student and Teacher; An Artist at War; The New Enterprise/Clothes Make the Man; and the New Legacy. The New Mexico Fine Arts exhibit will feature New’s influence on IAIA teachers, staff, students and alumni like TC Cannon, Fritz Scholder, Neil Parsons, Melanie Yazzie, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie and Will Wilson.

Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design, and Influence celebrates the work of Cherokee artist and educator Lloyd Henri "Kiva" New (1916-2002). This exhibition at the IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Art observes New's 100th birthday and draws on three major themes of his legacy, each tied to his innovative concepts in Native art and culturally-based education. Lloyd Kiva New: Art includes paintings by New from his personal collection, completed between 1938-1995, many never before shown in a museum or gallery.

Lloyd Kiva New: Design presents the artist as an innovator of Native Modernism through fashion and textile design in an interpretive reproduction of the Kiva Studio, New's successful 1950s showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona. Lloyd Kiva New: Influence features over forty printed textiles created by IAIA students during the 1960s and 1970s under New's artistic direction, drawn from the permanent collection of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.

The Kiva Studio replica is very cool, very hands-on as if the designer and clients will be there any minute. Even cooler and more hands-on is the center-gallery Influence installation which features some of over 200 student textiles produced with Lloyd’s influence from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Curator of Collections, Tatiana Lomahaftewa-Singer has drawn from IAIA’s permanent collection for this unique installation, and it is only part of what can be found in the collection.

Museum Archivist Ryan Flahive discovered a unique a touch-screen computer (made by Ideum) on which visitors can choose a fabric, colors, background design and motif to design their own textiles, which will be projected onto a 15-foot-wide view screen center-stage.

MoCNA opened this exhibit January 22 and will host a public reception on February 18, his birthday, and his wife Aysen New will co-host the “birthday party” at the IAIA Museum that was so much a part of his life. MoCNA will keep the exhibit open during Indian Market so that friends and alumni get a chance to participate.

The MIAC exhibit opens February 14 and runs until December 30 and will also offer special programming all year long. Lloyd Kiva New is also part of the Native Fashion Now exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, cited as an originator and innovator in their catalog.

See Related: Native Fashion Movement Celebrated at Peabody Essex Museum