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Southwest Native American Art & Culture

Seminar Leader:
Lucy Fowler Williams


This course looked closely at the impacts of settler colonialism to uncover Pueblo and Navajo art’s enduring engagement in supporting health and wellbeing among its practitioners and home communities. The course content was aligned with an upcoming exhibition on the subject at the Barnes Foundation in Spring 2022. Study and discussion were oriented around the Albert Barnes’ collection of Historic Southwest Native American art and related collections in the Penn Museum and contemporary art made by many of today’s leading Native American artists. The course explored Navajo and Pueblo pottery, weaving, and handmade metal silver/turquoise/shell jewelry within its historical and contemporary socio-political contexts of its making and use. Students learned to look closely at art and materials, artistic practice, and histories within Native community contexts. Topics explored indigenous perspectives, practices, lifestyles, and values, anthropological perspectives, Native American resistance and reclamation, representation, and issues of American history and art sovereignty. Contemporary Native American artists and resources were highlighted and a regular part of the course instruction and content.

Unit TitleAuthor


Representing our Blessings on Pottery Inspired by Southwestern Native American Art

Allison Aubry
Keywords: Art, blessings, clay tools, coil pot, motif, narrative, Native American, pinch pot, pottery, pottery wheel, Pueblo Pottery, secondary, slab, symbolism, symbols, well wishes

Form, Function and Symbolism: Art of The Pueblo Peoples

Kimberley Colasante
Keywords: Acoma, Ancestral Pueblo, Cochiti, Jason Garcia, Maria Martinez, Pueblo Pottery, Pueblo revolt, San Ildefonso Pueblo, Santa Clara Pueblo, Santa Domingo Pueblo, Taos, Tewa, Zuni

The Navajo, the Pueblos and Me

Jennifer Gallagher
Keywords: “The Long Walk”, Art, clay, fry bread, hogan, Native Americans, Navajo, pottery, Pueblo, Southwest, textiles, tradition and culture, weaving

Does Breaking It Down, Break It?: A look at holism’s effect on Euro/Indigenous Relations

Theresa Lord
Keywords: analytic, colonization, divergent worldviews, Holistic, indigenous/U.S. relations, Navajo, primary sources, Pueblo, secondary sources, thesis writing

Honoring Ancestral Cultural Traditions and Finding Community in Contemporary Life through Art Making

Alison Marzuoli
Keywords: Choice Based Art Education, Ethnographic Study, high school art, Navajo Jewelry, Navajo Weaving, Pueblo Pottery, Southwest Native American Art, Southwest Native Americans

Tangible History: Engaging Students Through Art of Indigenous Cultures

Alima McKnight
Keywords: appreciation, appropriation, Art, Blackfoot, Culture, design, hands-on, Indigenous, Native American, Navajo, pottery, Pueblo, symbols, teepees, textiles, weaving

Building Language: Representing and Affirming ELLs’ Home Cultures through Southwest Native American Art

Katie Miller
Keywords: artifacts, English language learners, Indigenous Pottery, language, Navajo, project based learning, Pueblo, Southwest Native American Art, Visual Art Integration, Visual Arts and Language

Gathering Clay: Community Poetry, Individual Grace, and the Limitations of Language

Greg Probst
Keywords: Art, artifacts, community, Creative Writing, Culture, English Language Arts, High School, Indigenous, individuality, louise erdrich, Native American, Navajo, neoindigenous, philly, poetry, Pueblo, society, south philadelphia, southwestern

Weaving for Healing and Connection

Karen Rufino
Keywords: Diné, Hozhó, Native American, Navajo, reservation, Spider Woman, tribe, weabing

Telling Stories and Making Connections Through Clay

Katherine Steiner
Keywords: Art, clay, Indigenous Pottery, pottery, Pueblo, storytelling