Making History: Celebrating 60 Years of IAIA and 50 Years of MoCNA

Jan 14, 2022

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), the birthplace of contemporary Native American art, has been the educational home for esteemed, innovative artists, writers, filmmakers, performers, and leaders since 1962. Just ten years after its humble beginnings on the Santa Fe Indian School campus, IAIA began collecting and exhibiting student artworks, a collection that soon became the world’s premier collection of contemporary Indigenous art—the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA).

Today, IAIA continues to grow on its stunning 140-acre campus, offering more and more certificate, undergraduate degree, and graduate degree programs, and MoCNA continues to expand its renowned collection of over 9,000 artworks, curating numerous progressive and innovative exhibitions, both traveling and at MoCNA’s location in downtown Santa Fe. This year, as we remember our rich history and look to our vibrant future, we ask everyone to join us in celebrating IAIA’s sixtieth anniversary and MoCNA’s semicentennial. The celebration of this monumental 60/50 anniversary will encompass the theme Making History and will be a prominent part of all IAIA and MoCNA events in 2022. Additionally, we have designed a commemorative 60/50 Anniversary logo, which will be displayed throughout the year.

“What I’ve admired most during my tenure here is observing the evolution of our students’ creativity and the ways in which they learn to take risks and manifest other leadership qualities while advancing their artistic expression.”
Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee)

IAIA President

Established in 1962 under the leadership of Lloyd Kiva New (Cherokee), Dr. George Boyce, and others, IAIA embodied a bold and innovative approach to arts education that was revolutionary for the time. Now, sixty years later, IAIA continues to fill a vital role as the only fine arts college in the world dedicated to the study of contemporary Native American and Alaska Native arts. Its culturally based curricula, innovative teaching, critical inquiry, and intergenerational learning inspire students and prepare them for success and leadership that reflects Native cultures and values. As a 1994 Land-Grant institution, IAIA provides training and outreach that promotes tribal sovereignty and self-determination.

Over the past six decades, IAIA’s influence on the art world has been monumental. “With the start of the Institute of American Indian Arts, students were encouraged to experiment,” says IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation). “The boundaries were limitless. Our students were taught to develop their artistic style without being bound by tradition or history.” According to Dr. Martin, what makes IAIA such a great institution is its student body who enrich the campus community with their diversity, creativity, talents, and passion. “What I’ve admired most during my tenure here is observing the evolution of our students’ creativity and the ways in which they learn to take risks and manifest other leadership qualities while advancing their artistic expression.”

“Many artists, scholars, and administrators both Native and non-Native have contributed to the museum’s success over the past five decades.”
Patsy Phillips (Cherokee Nation)

MoCNA Director

MoCNA, established in 1972 to showcase Indigenous creativity and to facilitate, advance, and support the study of museum practices, is the country’s only museum for exhibiting, collecting, and interpreting the most progressive works of contemporary Indigenous artists. MoCNA is dedicated solely to advancing the scholarship, discourse, and interpretation of contemporary Indigenous art for regional, national, and international audiences. It offers a unique perspective of Indigenous cultures and is a catalyst for intercultural dialogue, contributing profoundly to the dissemination and expansion of discourses related to the contemporary visual arts field by cultivating knowledge and appreciation advanced through dynamic exhibitions, publications, and engaging educational programs that reflect the vibrancy of contemporary Native art. While it began as a collection of student work, over the past half century, MoCNA has evolved to represent a wide range of contemporary arts from the best Indigenous artists in the world, explains IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Director Patsy Phillips (Cherokee Nation). “Many artists, scholars, and administrators both Native and non-Native have contributed to the museum’s success over the past five decades,” Phillips says. “In my fourteenth year as Director, I am proud of the staff’s continued commitment to elevate contemporary Indigenous art through exhibitions, collections, programs, partnerships, and new research.”

In 2022, when you join IAIA or MoCNA for any public event, be it the IAIA Commencement, IAIA Scholarship Event and Auction, MoCNA Opening Reception for Summer Exhibitions, IAIA’s Annual Open House, or any other exhibition or event, you will also be joining us in celebrating our 60/50 Anniversary—Making History.

About IAIA

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is the only college in the world dedicated to the study of contemporary Native American and Alaska Native arts. IAIA offers undergraduate degrees in Cinematic Arts and Technology, Creative Writing, Indigenous Liberal Studies, Museum Studies, Performing Arts, and Studio Arts; graduate degrees in Creative Writing and Studio Arts; and certificates in Broadcast Journalism, Business and Entrepreneurship, Museum Studies, and Native American Art History. The college serves approximately 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) Native and non-Native American students from around the globe, representing nearly a hundred federally recognized tribes. Named one of the top art institutions by UNESCO and the International Association of Art, IAIA is among the leading art institutes in our nation and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

About MoCNA

The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) is the country’s only museum for exhibiting, collecting, and interpreting the most progressive work of contemporary Native artists. MoCNA is dedicated solely to advancing the scholarship, discourse, and interpretation of contemporary Native art for regional, national, and international audiences—as such, it stewards 9,000 Contemporary Indigenous artworks (created 1962 to present). MoCNA is at the forefront of contemporary Native art presentation and strives to be flexible, foresighted, and risk-taking in its exhibitions and programs. MoCNA is located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Institute of American Indian Arts

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Current and Upcoming MoCNA Exhibitions

A listing of current and upcoming exhibitions at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA).

List of Events

Experimental exPRESSion: Printmaking at IAIA, 1963–1980

Mon, July 29, 2019Tue, May 31, 2022

Experimental exPRESSion: Printmaking at IAIA, 1963–1980 features fifty-one recently-acquired works on paper from the Tubis Print Collection.

Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology

Fri, August 20, 2021Sun, July 10, 2022

Exposure documents international Indigenous artists’ responses to the impacts of nuclear testing, nuclear accidents, and uranium mining on Native peoples and the environment.

Jazmin Novak (Diné), Be Still, 2021, Bronze, 4.5 x 4.5 x 11 in., photograph by Jason S. Ordaz, IAIA

IAIA 2021/2022 BFA Exhibition: We Went Wild

Fri, November 5, 2021Sun, January 30, 2022

We Went Wild is an exhibition of emerging students in the Institute of American Indian Arts’ (IAIA) BFA programs.

Closed Monday, Jan. 17 in Observance of Martin Luther King Jr., Day