Creation Date1931 – 1955
57.150 cm. H x 71.120 cm. W Item (Overall)
57.150 cm. H x 71.120 cm. W Frames
22.5 x 28
DescriptionFramed and matted watercolor painting of 4 Hopi potters at work with their wares around them. 29 x 23.5" Signed by Quah Ah / Tonita pena. The heavy card paper is stamped "1081 "Mohave" Belgium The A. Lietz Co."
Tonita was the only woman in the group of talented early pueblo artists referred to as The San Ildefonso Self-Taught Group, which included such noted artists as Julian Martinez, Alfonso Roybal, Abel Sanchez, Crecencio Martinez, and Encarnación Peña.
By the time Tonita was 25 years old, she was a successful easel artist, and her work was being shown in museum exhibitions and in commercial art galleries in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. She painted what she knew best—scenes of life at the pueblo—mostly ceremonial dances and everyday events. She is still considered one of the best female Indian artists of all time.
Tonita Peña/Quah Ah, San Ildefonso, 1895-1949, is was an important artist of the Native American watercolor movement, and the only woman to be part of the movement's early years. Determined not to be confined by traditional gender roles in Pueblo culture, she took up painting and developed a highly individual style. The artist, Pablita Velarde has recalled that in Peña's time women were not supposed to be artist-painters. Their role was to care for the children, the home, the community and their ceremonial responsibilities. Tonita was very rebellious, I think, to her own way of thinking, and she raised her family like a good woman, and was a good wife like a good woman, but she had this little bit of a rebellion that she always wanted to show the men that not only a man can paint a good picture, and she did it. Peña's early paintings depict ceremonial dances and genre scenes in which Pueblo women are the primary participants.
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