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Turquoise, Water and Sky

“In the past, as today, turquoise represents origins and belonging, protection and health, abundance and beauty. It stands for all aspects of a good life and, more explicitly, it symbolizes water, sky, rain, sun, bountiful crops and healthy, happy children. Turquoise is integral to the local cultures – no wonder it represents them to the world!”

I noticed this quote upon entering the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s new exhibit “Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning”. It beautifully explained the myriad of ways that this stone touches every part of the Native American culture and the exhibit is curated in such a way, that you are drawn from one gallery to the next; sharing in how the artist has interpreted the stone’s influence.

Incredibly ornate large Squash Blossom necklaces, single strand beaded necklaces, silver bracelets with large stones set within, silver overlay techniques by Hopi artists, and so much more were present throughout the exhibit. The color of turquoise, unique to every stone, was breathtaking.

I encourage you to take the time to read each of the descriptions near the displays. I discovered that a Santo Domingo shell bird necklace (carved prior to 1954) symbolizes the importance of water through the color of the stone and the origin of the shell. This was a beautiful combination with the white and brilliant blue. I learned that the Navajo silver boxes were a form of inheritance and that the Hopi created the silver overlay technique. Did you know that the Zuni’s snake symbol is interpreted as lightning and is associated with rain? I really enjoyed taking home the understanding of the preciousness of this stone and its meaning for so many indigenous cultures.

I enjoyed the video of Michael Roanhorse on Navajo bracelet design and Jolene Eustace (a Cochiti/Zuni jeweler). Have a seat, take a moment and watch the artists create. Test yourself and see if you can choose the true, simulated or enhanced turquoise. I was surprised at the true color of the raw turquoise. That’s your hint.

There are four other exhibitions currently at the MIAC. Native American Portraits: Points of Inquiry is just a stunning exhibit of archival photographs against a turquoise backdrop. These black and white photographs document the changing perceptions of Native Americans over the past 100 years. I recommend taking the time to see all of the exhibits.

I would be remiss if not to include that the MIAC sits on Milner Plaza at Museum Hill with the International Folk Art Museum. I have included the link to the IFAM here, but will blog another time on their exhibits. Feel free to peruse their site and plan a half day, when visiting, for both museums and maybe include the nearby Wheelwright Museum and the Spanish Colonial Arts Museum.

Museum hours are currently 10am-5pm Tuesday through Sunday. Summer hours are every day from 10am-5pm, and Fridays are free from 5pm-8pm.

I recommend that you stop in for lunch at the Museum Hill Café from 11am-3pm and experience the best patio views of Santa Fe.

My hope is that you plan enough time to enjoy all that Santa Fe has to offer when you visit the Inn of the Governors. Or maybe, you will need to schedule a return visit very soon. Safe travels, Deb Swanson

Things to See and Do in Santa Fe!

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