Mateo Romero: The Dartmouth Pow-Wow Suite

Hood Quarterly, autumn/winter 2011-12
Michael Taylor, Director

In spring 2009, the Hood Museum of Art commissioned Mateo Romero, Class of 1989, to paint a series of ten portraits of current Native American Dartmouth students as they danced at the college's annual Pow-Wow. Romero, born in 1966, is Tewa, Cochiti Pueblo, and lives on the Pojoaque Reservation north of Santa Fe. In May 2009, he traveled to Dartmouth to photograph dancers at the Pow-Wow, and he completed the almost life-sized portraits in 2010.They feature nine current or former Dartmouth students—including author Louise Erdrich, Class of 1976, and her daughter Aza, Class of 2011—and the sister of two Dartmouth alumnae, all dressed in their tribal regalia. Created through Romero's signature technique of overpainting a photographic image, these works represent a continuation of the artist's series on Native dance that includes Deer Dancer at Daybreak, which was acquired by the Hood in 2008. A brilliant palette, powerful brushstrokes, and bold, sculptural drips create dynamic, expressionistic works that reveal the influence of Romero's distinguished Dartmouth professor Ben Frank Moss. In this series, the figures of the dancers appear to almost hover atop the paintings' surfaces, achieving a dreamlike quality and evoking the power of the ritual.

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Written September 01, 2011