The Virtual Coe Being together while being apart....
January 8, 2021
What color...!

This wide-brimmed man's hat (or pishalal in Tzotzil Mayan) was created by Pascual Lopez Lopez. He was the winner of the FONART Award (National Fund for the Development of Arts and Crafts, Mexico) for three years in a row for making Tzotzil majordomo hats in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico.

The Tzotzil are the largest Indigenous group of the Mexican state of Chiapas. The piece was donated to the Coe by Edward J. Guarino, who has not only donated a large number of artworks to the Coe, including a wonderful selection of Indigenous Mexican textiles and hats, but also was the lender for our exhibition Catch 22: Paradox on Paper in 2017-18.

This hat was included in the 2019 Hands-On Student Curatorial Program exhibition Recollective Echo. It was selected by Roan Mulholland, a Hands-On curator with us for three years. As part of her curation, she delved into how pieces from the Coe collection triggered personal memories or feelings from her own life. As Roan explained, There are limits to words. This is why I chose to draw my pieces. I wanted to make some part of it my own, not by making it better or distracting from the beauty of the original, but to incorporate it more fully into my memories. However, like stories, memories change, and through our dreams, they change more. So I wanted to share how I see them, how my brain has changed a ceremonial hat from the Tzotzil Maya group in Mexico into a sunset, and a pineapple into a first meeting. By drawing them out, I unbind the limitations that physicality has set on them. I can make them into a dream.

To learn more about this piece, click here.
Pascual Lopez Lopez (Tzotzil Mayan), Man's Hat (Pishalal), 2005.
Palm fibers and satin, 6 x 15 (diam) in. Gift of Edward J. Gaurino, 2017. LA0026
I wanted to do
what the old people did...

I wanted to do what the old people did... I make elk antler purses, and make them as different as I want ... I mean, I could put elks on them, and all these other things and try to show skills an artist would. But I don't. I just like the way they were done a long time ago. And I just keep making them. –George Blake

Marked by an engraved "GB" with the date 87, this elk antler purse by George Blake was commissioned by Ted and displayed in the 1992 exhibition A Dialogue of Tradition and Objects of Myth and Memory at the Brooklyn Museum.

Its cylindrical shaped body has beautiful etched geometric designs. The interior, lined with felt, is impressive considering the narrow opening, topped with a slivered-out portion of the antler, then closed by wrapping a long strip of leather around the antler that's connected through a punctured hole in the lid. Unlike most purses, this elk antler purse serves as a storage carrier for strands of dentalium shells used as currency. The hollowed-out pocket keeps the shells from breaking; if broken, the shells would lose their value. 

To learn more about this piece and the artist, click here.
George Blake (Hupa-Yurok), Purse, 1987.
Elk antler, black pigment, commercial leather, and felt. 3.5 x 9.5 x 2 in. NA0549

Did you miss it?
The last Collections Spotlight event of 2020 took place on December 15. In case you missed it, you can watch it now.

Jordan Poorman Cocker is a curator, artist, and designer. She is our next host for Collections Spotlight. Jordan is an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe and of Tongan descent and holds a Master of Museum and Heritage Practice from Victoria University of Wellington, as well as a Bachelor of Design from Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Jordan’s artwork has been exhibited at local and international institutions including the Jacobson House 2016, New Zealand Architecture Week 2014, and the Prague Quadrennial 2015. She currently works with Gilcrease Museum as a Curatorial Scholar of Indigenous Art funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.


Collections Spotlight, a program developed in partnership with First American Art Magazine, is an interactive, online monthly discussion that brings together diverse scholars and Native artists who select artworks from the Coe’s collection to interpret and discuss. The virtual Zoom format also brings together attendees from diverse regions. Attendee questions are accepted throughout the experience via chat, and at the end opened to audio. These events are free and open to the general public.

To view all past recorded events on the Coe YouTube channel, click here.


The Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts is a private operating 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent of the Internal Revenue Code. Please donate online or mail checks to the Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts, 1590 B Pacheco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Your support creates connection. Thank you.

Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts | 1590 B Pacheco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505

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