Velino Herrera "Buffalo Dance"
The Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior building contains one of the largest collections of New Deal art in Washington DC by some of the finest American artists of the time.
From 1939 to 1941, several Indian artists were invited by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts to study with Olle Nordmark and then paint murals in the Interior building.
In 1940, Velino Herrera from the Zia Pueblo in New Mexico painted a set of murals called “Pueblo Life” in what is now the South Penthouse on the 8th floor (formerly the Employees’ Break Room). On the East Wall are “Buffalo Chase” and “Buffalo Dance.” On the West Wall are “Pueblo Woman and Child”, “Women Making Pottery” and “Pueblo Girls Carrying Pottery”.
There are also two non-figurative murals: “Pueblo Symbol: The Eagle Dance Design” and “Pueblo Symbol: The Shield Design” (not shown).
Finally, four figures called “Corn Dance” are painted on square pillars which used to surround a soda fountain; when it was removed, they were accidentally painted over and had to be restored later (only two are shown here).
The Department of Interior Museum offers regular mural tours; check their website for information and registration.
For more information on the Interior building, its art and the artists, see Look and Perrault 1986. Artworks begin on p. 110.
Look, David and Carole Perrault. The Interior Building: Its Architecture and Its Art. Washington DC: US Department of Interior, National Park Service, 1986. pp. 110-172. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015029850214&view=1up&seq=1
McLerran, Jennifer. 2009. A New Deal for Native Art: Indian Arts and Federal Policy, 1933-1943. University of Arizona Press.
Project originally submitted by New Deal Art Registry on December 30, 2014.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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