Women have been integral to the Southwest and Santa Fe art movement since the early 1900’s. During the 20th century, the region was a haven for courageous women searching for a land where they might rid themselves from the social norms and crowds of the East. In the southwest, and especially so in New Mexico, these women found a welcoming community of like-mind souls and drew inspiration from the landscape and culturally rich Native American and ancient Hispanic traditions.


The women artists were often much more daring in their artistic expression than their male peers. Experimentation became second nature as they explored new ideas and the human experience, and drew upon the ever-changing colors of the mountains and mesas to form a new perspective of the Southwest.


Donna Howell-Sickles

Holding the White Feather

Mixed Media on Paper

29.75 x 43.5


Louisa McElwain

El Cerro del Rito

Oil on Canvas

14 x 24 in.


Susan Hertel 

3 Horses and a Fence

Oil on Canvas 

55 x 79 in.



C. J. Well's creates her images in a trance-like state, surrounded by paint and bathed in music. Her abilities seem boundless and her portraits of Native Americans reveal a passion for detail and harmonic hues. The result is dynamic and enigmatic figure of power and beauty.

Wells applies many layers of paint to reveal the magical luminescence of skin and light. The colors are vibrant reds, blues and purples that dance in the brightness. Her details, such as beaded and feathered head-dresses or traditional blankets, require many hours of work with a small brush.


Jean Richardson

In Harmony

Acrylic on Canvas

42 x 56 in.


Pablita Velarde

Santa Clara Deer Dancer


17.25 x 13 in.





Crystal and Foal

Oil on Canvas

76 x 60 in.

Estella Loretto is currently the only Native American woman working in monumental bronze sculpting. She is recognized internationally as one of the finest sculptors living today. Her pieces have an essence of strength, grace and serenity. Her genuine spiritual nature defines her commitment to integrity and authenticity in her art and in her life.


Estella left her native New Mexican home at the Pueblo of Jemez at age 15 and traveled the world for eight years studying with remarkable artists in Italy, Japan, India, Nepal, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia.


Estella's work has always reflected her highly internalized spiritual vision of the world, an intimate legacy of her Pueblo background that is manifested in her artistic creations as well as her home, which is a sanctuary of beauty.



"Painting was not considered women's work in my time. A woman was supposed to be just a woman, like a housewife and a mother and chief cook. Those were things I wasn't interested in."


-Pablita Velarde

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