How a professional Native artist creates a sustainable career is the driving question of Dr. Marilyn Norcini’s economic study of Santa Clara Pueblo artist, Pablita Velarde (1916-2006).
“When you attend the Santa Fe Indian Market, do you ever walk past the booths thinking of the artists as self-employed business men and women? Probably not. And are you aware that the price you paid for the Native basket or pottery is a revenue stream for the artist family’s yearly income – providing a household with money for food, clothing, housing and gas?”
Velarde was a New Deal public artist who transitioned into a professional artist during the second half of the twentieth century. For fifty years, Velarde owned and operated a successful home business in Albuquerque by making and selling her visual and literary works. After a divorce in the late 1950s, Velarde solely supported herself and her two children from her artworks, books and crafts.
Dr. Norcini presents a unique approach to writing an artist biography – by focusing on the practical economic aspects of making a living as a Native artist. Although Pablita modestly dismissed the idea that she was a competent businesswoman, quantitative financial data prove otherwise. Research from diverse primary and secondary sources builds a financial picture of a Native artist’s business practices – a pattern of wholesale and retail sales, marketing strategies, pricing, several product lines, and a signature line of “earth paintings.” With hard work, talent and business savvy, Velarde created a personal “brand” as a full-time, professional Native artist and businesswoman.
The presentation is free and open to the public, advanced registration is encouraged. A reception to meet Dr. Norcini will follow her talk.