Centennial celebration of artist LLOYD KIVA NEW
Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design, and Influence
This Feb. 18 will mark 100 years since the birth of Lloyd Kiva New, a successful Scottsdale fashion designer and influential arts educator who co-founded the Institute of American Indian Arts in 1962. The Museum of Contemporary Native Art’s exhibition Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design, and Influence, the first of three major exhibits opening in Santa Fe in honor of New’s centennial, is a show of rarely seen (and never-before-seen) treasures. The exhibit, which opens Friday, Jan. 22, includes a selection of paintings that span his career, student-made textiles that show his impact as an educator, and examples of his fashions and accessory designs. The other two exhibits are the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s career retrospective A New Century: The Life and Legacy of Cherokee Artist and Educator Lloyd “Kiva” New, which opens on Feb. 14, and Finding a Contemporary Voice: The Legacy of Lloyd Kiva New and IAIA, opening at the New Mexico Museum of Art in May.
New, a Cherokee, was born Lloyd Henri New in 1916. He was educated at the Art Institute of Chicago, and then taught painting at the Phoenix Indian School in Arizona. He enlisted in the Navy in 1941 and served on the USS Sanborn, from the deck of which he witnessed the assault on Iwo Jima. He added “Kiva” to his name in 1946 when he opened his own studio in Scottsdale. Throughout the 1940s and ’50s, New’s shop sold men’s and women’s fashions, handbags, ties, and printed textiles. In the mid-1940s, New also co-founded the Arizona Craftsman Center in downtown Scottsdale. In 1950, after it burned down in a fire, the center was moved to another location outside the city.
A feature of MoCNA’s three-part exhibition is a replica of the interior of New’s Scottsdale studio, curated by archivist Rose Marie Cutropia. The installation is in the museum’s Fritz Scholder Gallery. “On the back wall will be a mural,” Cutropia told Pasatiempo. “We have this interior shot of the shop from Scottsdale, and we’re having it blown up to fit almost the entire wall. When you walk in here, it will look store-like,” she said. “You’ll have the handbags and six mannequins dressed in men and women’s clothing, and some of his iconic shirts with special buttons designed by Hopi jeweler Charles Loloma, who also did the clasps on the handbags.” The space also has steel racks to support a number of fabric swatches with printed designs by New, and two small chests of drawers, inside of which are ephemera related to his fashion business: advertisements, business cards, a shopping bag, and similar items. “On one wall we’ll have a continuous Power-Point slideshow of images of him, him with the models, the models by themselves, him with the products. I’m hoping to have some audio excerpts from an oral history interview, too,” she said.
In Scottsdale, New built up an extensive clientele and sold his designs to high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus. He derived design motifs from traditional Cherokee iconography and art and reimagined them for his printed textiles, helping to bring Cherokee art into a contemporary idiom. In 1961, New accepted a position as art director at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), becoming director in 1967, a position in which he served until his retirement in 1978. He died in 2002.
Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design, and Influence includes more than 40 printed student textiles made in the 1960s and ’70s under New’s tutelage. The textiles are drawn from the museum’s permanent collection and have only been exhibited piecemeal until now, and in fewer quantities. “He was teaching students to create the textiles using large screens,” said Tatiana Lomahaftewa-Singer, who is curating the textile portion of the show. “The institute kept around 200 or so of these textiles that became accessioned into the permanent collection. It’s all student-produced works that are long and colorful, with all different design motifs. They had been rolled up in storage for many years,” she said.
You can see correlations between the student designs and New’s fashions, particularly the freefloating Native motifs that New divorced from their original contexts. He got his students to do the same. “Students were encouraged to use familiar motifs in unfamiliar ways,” said Ryan Flahive, IAIA’s archivist. “That’s really what his intent was. Eliminate the box, take your Indian art and preconceived notions of what Indian art should be out of the box.” A lot of the
textiles were used as draperies, wall-hangings, and table coverings — purposes for which they were intended — making them functional works of art. Most of the textiles are unsigned and unattributed. “This is the first time we’re really concentrating on these textiles and showing so many at once,” Lomahaftewa-Singer said. “Most people don’t know they exist. Most people who know about our collections know about the paintings of T.C. Cannon or Kevin Red Star or the sculpture of Doug Hyde. These are the kinds of folks they’re familiar with.”
The textile display includes an interactive screen designed by Ideum that allows visitors to view textile works in the collection that did not make it into the show, as well as try their hand at designing their own, based on a series of templates. The visitor-made designs can be projected next to exhibited artworks.
Flahive, the exhibit’s painting curator, is focusing on New’s watercolors. “From what I can tell, that was his favorite medium, watercolor,” he said. Flahive is including four of New’s wartime paintings, made when he was serving in the Navy, including a rendering of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Sanborn. “I’m going to have a panel with some sketches of a mural he installed on the boat,” Flahive said. “There’s another 80 or 90 pieces that he did that are wartime that we’re not showing. That’s a whole other show in and of itself. The rest is going to be a selection of about 25 pieces. I worked very closely with his widow Aysen New, and Aysen is lending us pieces for the show.”
The earliest piece was created in 1938, a painting of Pima women picking cotton in the fields around Phoenix. “When he started teaching, that was some of the first imagery that you see,” Flahive said. “He knew he was a successful fashion designer, and he gave it up to become a very successful art educator.”
Fabric and leather goods sales room, Studio 10, Kiva Crafts Center, 75 Fifth Ave., Scottsdale, Arizona, circa 1955, photo Stuart Weiner; top left, Lloyd Kiva New, Scottsdale, 1956; middle, Lloyd Kiva New: Design sketch of a “Kiva Bag,” ink on paper; all images courtesy Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
Left, Woman modeling Lloyd Kiva New hat, Scottsdale, circa 1953; middle, New measuring gold coat at fashion show, Scottsdale, circa 1956; right, Kiva Crafts Center, Scottsdale, circa 1956; below, top, Jenny Rush (Ponca), Untitled Textile, aniline dyes on cotton; bottom, Carol Frazier Aikens (Paiute): Untitled, 1976, ink on cotton, photo Jason Ordaz
Lloyd Kiva New: Untitled study for mural on the USS Sanborn, circa 1945, watercolor on paper; top, Lloyd Kiva New: Three Sisters, 1968, watercolor and acrylic on paper; photos Jason Ordaz