DAN SIMPLICIO (1917-1969)
Master of the Zuni Renaissance
The artistic explosion of talent in Zuni silver and stonework of the mid-20th Century is known as the Zuni Renaissance (c.1930-c.1960). It came at an historic crossroads of events and human endeavor. Seashells from the Gulf of Mexico and trade items such as silver crosses and brass ornaments were brought laboriously to the Southwestern Pueblos before New Mexico became a U.S. territory in 1846. The Spanish missions brought Christianity to the Zuni but they never lost sight of their own Creation mythology, the god/goddess Awonawilona, and spirits such as the Knifewing, protector of the village. In the first decades after 1900 there were many technical advantages for silver workers that had not been available in prior times. Commercial solder and blow torches were superior to using borax and silver shavings over an open fire. Electricity was used for lighting and other tools of the trade. The advent of the railroads in the Rio Grande Valley brought customer, national interest and opportunities for all Indian craftspeople. And into this mix of history and commerce emerged the highly gifted artists of Zuni.
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