No name for art

  • Shanna Naranjo: "My ideas come from my subconscious."

    Bruce Hucko
  • Lee Moquin: "I like to draw petroglyphs."

    Bruce Hucko
  -The reason I draw the designs is to make the past and present come together. It's like mixing colors."

* Jordan Harvier, age 13

Bruce Hucko's new book, Where There is No Name for Art: The Art of Tewa Pueblo Children, is like Harvier's quote. It blends black-and-white photographs of young artists, interviews and colorful artwork in such a way that past and present come together for 40 children from five of the six Tewa-speaking pueblos in New Mexico.

One page, for example, displays 12-year-old Daniel Archuleta's close-up painting of "rainbow moccasins'; another offers a picture of a traditional basket dancer by Naomi Naranjo, 12. Flip forward and there is a watercolor by Jeff Martinez, 8, of "funny football players' and a satirical drawing by Juan de la Cruz, 12, of tourists shoving fistfuls of money at Indian artisans in a plaza of one of the pueblos.

Hucko tells us the Tewa-speaking people have no separate word for "art" because art is an integral part of daily life. In engagingly fresh and often funny interviews, the children talk to him about their lives and artwork while riding bikes, sitting in a clubhouse or playing video games. "Where do you get your ideas from?" asks Hucko. "My head, duh!" exclaims Devonna Naranjo. "There are still pictures in my head." Or as Paige Mirabal puts it: "Like from God? It moves onto the paper. It moves through your arm when you're painting." Or this, from Mauricia Chavarria: "You have to believe in yourself and get what's stored in your mind out, so you can store more."

The book was a collaboration among the children, their families and communities, local teachers and Hucko, who has worked as a local art teacher, writer and photographer. Members of the pueblos of Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Pojoaque and Nambé reviewed drafts of the book, while the children, who were paid for their artwork, are helping to market it. Part of the book's royalties will be donated to a Children's Art Fund.

Where There is No Name for Art by Bruce Hucko is available in paperback for $20 from School of American Research Press, P.O. Box 2188, 660 Garcia Street, Santa Fe, N.M. 87504 (505/984-0741).

*Elizabeth Manning
High Country News Classifieds