The Spanish Americans
Taos artist Kenneth Adams was commissioned by the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) to paint images depicting “the three major peoples of New Mexico: Native Indians, Hispanics and Anglos.” The murals were ultimately paid for by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation.
“The Native Americans” depicts “traditional Native American arts and crafts with a Navajo woman adorned in silver jewelry, her back to a loom where a blanket has been woven. Four other Indians, including a woman who represents Apache dislocation, fill the picture. The second depicts the Hispanic contribution to New Mexico, with three workers plastering and plowing. The third panel shows an Anglo doctor holding up a newborn baby and two scientists conducting research.
“The fourth panel, ‘The Union of the Three Peoples,’ shows three men: one Indian and one Hispanic flanking an Anglo. All are the same height and dressed similarly, but it is notable that the Anglo is the central figure. According to the Historical Review, in the 1970s, ‘the panels became the subject of intense controversy.’ The fourth panel was twice vandalized with paint thrown on the Anglo figure.”
The Review suggests, “The simplistic depiction of blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan figures perpetuates the nineteenth-century belief in the manifest destiny of Anglos to expand across the continent and lead other races to American democracy and a more ‘advanced’ future.” (abqjournal.com)