Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

But Pablita's own talent and the encouragement of her teacher, Dorothy Dunn, and Tonita Pena, the only other Indian woman artist of the day, kept her on her chosen path. Early on, she began experimenting with earth pigments she ground herself, the way the "old ones" painted. Following graduation from the Indian School in 1936, Pablita took odd jobs to support herself, working as a maid and a nurse's aide. She taught when she could, while continuing to paint at night.

Pablita's break came when the Park Service hired her to paint murals depicting Pueblo life at Bandelier National Monument. Then, while working as a switchboard operator in Albuquerque, she met and married police officer Herbert Hardin. Following her divorce in 1957, she supported her two children, Helen and Herbert, through her painting. "I didn't really think of myself as an artist until my kids were in school, and I thought: I'm gonna compete."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes