Published July 30, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexican locals and visitors alike will have the rare opportunity to experience the complete collection of first edition prints by famed Santa Clara Pueblo artist Helen Hardin when her show “Spirit Lines” goes on display at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) this fall. Hardin’s work will be showcased in the center’s newly-renovated South Gallery at 2401 12th St NW, Albuquerque from November 11, 2017, through March 4, 2018.
While Hardin (1943-1984) achieved fame over a decades-long career as a painter, in the last few years of her life she turned her attention to a newfound passion, copper plate etchings. In total she produced 23 plates from 1980 to 1984 before succumbing to breast cancer at age 41, and “Spirit Lines” brings together all 23 first edition prints.
“We’re so honored and excited to bring Helen Hardin’s work back home to Albuquerque,” says Rachel Moore (Hopi), IPCC Curator of Exhibitions. “She loved this city, since she once said it was the only place she truly felt accepted. Of all the art galleries and museums where her work could go, it’s wonderful to welcome it to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, where we can really delve into her life story and cultural connections.”
Hardin’s mother, Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) of Santa Clara Pueblo, blazed her own trail as a watercolorist in the 1940s at a time when Pueblo artists were largely expected to restrict themselves to certain predefined styles, and when Pueblo women weren’t encouraged to pursue art at all. By the time Hardin began developing her own career as a painter, Velarde was an established figure in New Mexico’s art world, yet Hardin successfully evolved beyond her mother’s legacy to establish her own style and reputation. While Velarde painted traditional scenes of Pueblo life, Hardin bridged traditional and contemporary worlds by creating abstract compositions inspired in part by designs from ancient rock art and pottery.
“Spirit Lines” includes Hardin’s “Woman Series,” her three most famous etchings. Taken together, “Changing Woman,” “Medicine Woman,” and “Listening Woman” reflect Hardin’s personal struggle and evolution during the last three years of her life. Moore is already at work curating these and the show’s 20 other etchings to tell the story of Hardin’s life journey, as well as her role in the evolution of Pueblo art across the region.
Hardin’s legacy is now maintained in large part by Helen Hardin #1’s LLC, the organization that owns the print collection and has facilitated this show by making the etchings available on loan. Although Hardin’s own artistic career was cut short by her premature passing, her daughter Margarete Bagshaw (1964-2015) continued the family tradition with years of work as a successful modernist painter, solidifying a unique American “dynasty” of three generations of professional female artists. The IPCC is one of a few organizations in the world whose collection houses work by all three, a fact that will help shape this fall’s exhibitions.
“Spirit Lines: Helen Hardin Etchings” will open at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (2401 12th St NW) on November 11, 2017, and run through March 4, 2018. Visitors can enjoy the show in the IPCC’s South Gallery, open 9am to 5pm daily, included with museum admission ($8.40 for adults, $6.40 for New Mexico residents, $5.40 for students and children).
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.