News from MIAC/Lab

Museum of Indian Arts & Culture announces 2024 Living Treasure and Legacy Award recipients

DECEMBER 27, 2023

Santa Fe, NM — Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 Living Treasure and Legacy Awards. These awards are part of the annual MIAC Native Treasures Art Market and honor Native American artists who have made outstanding artistic contributions to the field of Indigenous arts and culture.  

 Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo) is the 2024 recipient of the MIAC Living Treasure award.  

  Michaels is known for her haute couture designs. Growing up in New Mexico, she was surrounded by beauty—in culture, landscape, and art, all of which influenced her design aesthetic. She became widely known through participation in the Emmy Award-winning season 11 of “Project Runway” in 2012. Based in Taos, her career as a designer has taken her to faraway places like New York and Paris. In June 2023, she dressed actress Tantoo Cardinal for the Cannes Film Festival to premiere “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Michaels will be celebrated with a solo exhibition in the spring of 2024. 

 “When I got the call from Polly Nordstrand, that I was chosen, I immediately had a flashback to the first years of doing the show on Museum Hill in front of MIAC, when it was called Small Treasures,” said Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo). “Wow, what an honor to be amongst accomplished artists. I hope this brings more inspiration for many artists that have been out here and ones yet to come. Taw-aw/Thank you, may we always be bountiful in health, culture, creativity, and business.”  

 Martha Arquero (Cochiti Pueblo) is the 2024 recipient of the Native Treasures Legacy Award. Arquero has been creating clay sculptures since the 1960s. She was inspired to continue the family tradition of clay sculpting by her mother, Damacia Cordero. She continues to use traditional methods: gathering and processing her own clay, using plant and mineral pigments to paint, and firing outdoors. Arquero specializes in handmade Cochiti figures, nativities, animal, and traditional storytellers. However, her unique whimsical style and divergence into characters like the superheroes Wonder Woman and Spiderman propel the tradition of Cochiti figures into the 21st century like no other artist. Her artworks are a special combination few artists achieve, carrying forward an art form that emerged in the 19th century to our present. 

 "The day I got the phone call about the award, I was drinking coffee and feeling down. Then the phone rang, and I was told about the Legacy Award (for Native Treasures). Oh, my goodness, my spirits lifted, and the news made me so happy,” said Martha Aquero (Cochiti Pueblo). “I am from a family of potters, which included all of my late sisters, and my mother Damacia Cordero, and my grandmother Lucinda Suina. I wish I could share this award with Clyde (Martha’s late husband) because he always encouraged me to do my work. I am excited for this award, and it lifts me up knowing that people and the museum appreciate my work and what I do. It makes me feel so good." 

 The 20th annual Native Treasures Art Market will be held over Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26, 2024, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The public is invited to see the works of Patricia Michaels, Martha Aquero and many other talented Native American artists selected by Museum of Indian Arts and Culture staff. For more information about the Native Treasures Market visit:  

 About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture    

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology is to serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Native Southwest.