Indian Market Spotlight: James Black, Del Curfman, Cara Romero and Zoë Urness

Every August, Santa Fe excites with fervid energy as it welcomes the annual Santa Fe Indian Market. After taking a pause last year due to the pandemic, the market returns August 21-22, 2021. Steeped in the history of Santa Fe, Indian Market was established by the Museum of New Mexico in 1922, to correspond with Santa Fe’s Fiesta celebrations. At the time of its founding, the market was initiated “to preserve and revive old arts, to keep the arts of each tribe as distinctive as possible, to help to authenticate, to locate markets, and to obtain fair prices.” Since 1936, the event has been sponsored by the Southwest Association of Indian Arts (SWAIA) with the driving mission of “bringing Native arts to the world by inspiring artistic excellence, fostering education, and creating meaningful partnerships.”

Now, nearly 100 years later, Indian Market gathers more than 600 Native artists from all over the country. For Tia Collection, the market provides us with the opportunity to foster new relationships, but also, allows us to reconnect with artists whose works already reside in the collection.

If your plans bring you to Indian Market this year, be on the lookout for these Tia Collection artists: James Black, Del Curfman, Cara Romero, and Zoë Urness.

Top image: Cara Romero, Dans L’Ombre (In Shadows), 2021, Tia Collection

Zoë Urness

Booth location: Plaza 24

Zoë Marieh Urness is a Tlingit Alaskan Native. Her unique style of photography simultaneously reflects the sensitivity and the ancestral strength of her subjects. With her portraits of modern Natives in traditional regalia on sacred lands, Urness aims to send the message: “We are here. And we are thriving through our traditions.” Educated at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA, the artist’s current projects focus exclusively on sharing compelling depictions of Indigenous Americans, their lands, and their cherished traditions. Most recently, she visited the Havasupai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the Hopi at Second Mesa, the Apache Crown Dancers at Monument Valley, and the Alaskan natives at the Biennial Celebration in Juneau. Urness gained critical acclaim for her Pulitzer Prize nominated photograph Dec. 6, 2016: No Spiritual Surrender, an iconic image that bore witness to the resilient opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.

Zoë Urness, Raven Tells His Story in the Fog, 2014, Tia Collection

James Black

Booth location: East Lincoln 752

James Black is a Southern Cheyenne Sundance priest from the small, rural town of Watonga, Oklahoma. After learning about ledger art and its historical significance to his people and the preservation of their stories, Black focused his discipline on continuing this traditional form of pictographic drawing. The medium also personally resonates with the artist, whose lineage traces back to an original ledger artist who was imprisoned at Fort Marion, Florida in the late 1800s. In addition to exhibiting at Santa Fe Indian Market, his work has been shown at the Heard Museum and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. He is currently pursuing a degree in Museum Studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the ambition to one day establish a museum centered on the self-representation of the Southern Cheyenne peoples.

James Black, Initiation Day – Cheyenne Bowstring Society, 2018, Tia Collection

Cara Romero

Booth location: Plaza 50

Cara Romero is a contemporary fine art photographer. An enrolled citizen of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, Romero was raised between contrasting settings: the rural Chemehuevi reservation in Mojave Desert, CA and the urban sprawl of Houston, TX. Romero’s identity informs her work, a blend of fine art and editorial photography, shaped by years of study and a visceral approach to representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history, as well as lived experiences, from a female Native American perspective. As an undergraduate at the University of Houston, Romero pursued a degree in cultural anthropology. Disillusioned by academic and media portrayals of Native Americans as bygone, Romero realized that making photographs could do more than anthropology did in words — an epiphany that led to a shift in medium. Since 1998, Romero’s expansive oeuvre has been informed by formal training in film, digital, fine art, and commercial photography.

Cara Romero, Last Indian Market, 2014, Tia Collection

Last Indian Market is one of Romero’s earliest photographs and was taken while the artist was still a student. Captured with traditional 35mm film, the composition features 13 famous Native American artists: (from left to right) Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho), Amber Dawn Bear-Robe (Blackfoot), Kenneth Johnson (Muscogee Creek/Seminole), Diego Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), Darren Vigil Gray (Jicarilla Apache), Kathleen Wall (Jemez Pueblo), Marcus Amerman (Choctaw), Marian Denipah (San Juan Pueblo/Dine), Pilar Agoyo (San Juan/Cochiti Pueblo), Steve LaRance (Hopi), Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara), Linda Lomahaftewa (Hopi) and America Meredith (Cherokee).

Del Curfman

Booth location: West Lincoln 756

Del Curfman is the first recipient of Tia Collection’s Native American Fellowship, a newly initiated program that provides an opportunity for emerging Native artists to interface with the collection and its extended network of artists, galleries, and museums. In turn, Curfman lends his insight as a Native artist to further expand Tia’s understanding of how the collection can better serve its Indigenous artists and their communities. 

Curfman attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he received his BA in Studio Art, with an emphasis in Painting and Museum Studies in 2017. Drawing from his Apsáalooke heritage, Curfman explores the language, rites of passage, and the values of the Crow Nation of Montana, through loosely gestural impasto paintings that depict historical figures and present-day members of his community. Whether ceremonial dancers, or horse riders in full regalia, Curfman imbues his subjects with an innate moving force—one that carries a sense of forward momentum.


Pictured above, the artist is shown at work on a painting included in the 2020 exhibition Apsáalooke Women and Warriors at the The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Titled Bate´ Pride, the painting features two Apsáalooke female warriors, Osh-Tisch (She Who Finds Them and Kills Them) and The Other Magpie, both of whom engaged in the historical 1876 Battle of Rosebud. They were recognized as bate’ or bade, a Crow term loosely defined as “not a man, not a woman.” These figures were often held in high esteem by the Crow, for their unique ability to bridge both genders.

Image below: Installation of Curfman’s Bate´Pride in Apsáalooke Women and Warriors, The Field Museum

Click here for more information about Indian Market, and a detailed map of the artist booths. Centered in and around Santa Fe’s historic plaza, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the many museums and galleries located adjacent to the fair. Here’s a list of concurrent exhibitions that include Tia Collection artists:

Tony Abeyta
Owings Gallery, August 20 – September 28, 2021

Patrick Dean Hubbell: A New Day
Gerald Peters Gallery, through September 25, 2021

Dan Namingha
Niman Fine Art

Stan Natchez
Stanley Natchez Gallery

Group Exhibition
Includes Chris Pappan
Blue Rain Gallery , August 19 – 31, 2021

Southwest Rising: Contemporary Art and the Legacy of Elaine Horwitch
Includes Fritz Scholder
New Mexico Museum of Art , through January 2, 2022

Experimental Expression: Printmaking at IAIA, 1963-80
Includes T.C. Cannon and Linda Lomahaftewa
IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, through February 20, 2022

Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology
Includes Will Wilson
IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, through January 23, 2022