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NMSU University Museum talk to highlight Hopi art and culture

The New Mexico State University Museum will present a free public artist talk by the lead adviser for ?Itaa Katsi: Our Life,? the museum?s current exhibition of Hopi art, at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 5. Light refreshments will be served at 5:30 p.m.

Two colorful root sculptures with faces and feathers.
Spencer Nutima?s ?Salako Taka and Salako Mana,? is currently on display as part of the NMSU University Museum?s exhibition of Hopi art. This pendant cottonwood root sculpture is embedded with Hopi symbols of precipitation, such as macaw feathers, as well as painted feathers, dragonflies and bird tracks. Nutima will speak at the University Museum at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 5. (Courtesy photo)

The speaker, Spencer Nutima, is from Old Oraibi, a Hopi village in northeastern Arizona. Nutima has been integral to the incorporation of the Hopi language into the interpretative labels in the current University Museum show.

?His review of the exhibition text ensures that Hopi beliefs and life ways are accurately reflected,? said Michelle J. Lanteri, lead curator of ?Itaa Katsi: Our Life.? ?Nutima also selected the title of the exhibition and gave critical feedback on the themes and displays in the show.?

A Hopi artist himself, Nutima is known for his old-style katsina dolls (katsin tihu) and cottonwood root sculptures, which he has carved since the late 1940?s. His work is currently displayed as part of the ?Itaa Katsi: Our Life? exhibition.

?Nutima?s works evoke his impressive expertise and talent for making art in a multitude of media,? Lanteri said. ?His talk will be a very special opportunity for audiences to hear his perspective on how Hopi culture is visually and materially embodied in particular artworks.?

Nutima learned the art of katsina dolls from his grandfather and uncles. The late Chief Wilson Tawaquaptewa, of Old Oraibi, was also a strong influence on Nutima. Like Tawaquaptewa, some of Nutima?s old-style katsina dolls are imagined figures ? this style of doll is inspired by the spirits of the Hopi ancestors and is not a literal representation of these beings, Lanteri explained.

For more information on the NMSU University Museum and its free, community-wide events, visit http://univmuseum.nmsu.edu/.