Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Hazel Archer



Honored June, 1984

Hazel Archer

"Watching has always been a part of my life. I don't know why," said Hazel Archer. "1 was always more interested in watching what was going on. When I began photographing, I was the observer."

Born in 1921 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Chris and Ella Larsen, Hazel grew up with two brothers and a sister. At age ten she contracted polio. "I was fortunate to have such a supportive family," she recalls. "They encouraged me. Milwaukee had a very good homebound school program," which she attended until high school. "In high school, I started on braces and crutches." But although her activities were restricted, she developed keen powers of observation as a result.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Hazel "happened to notice a few short little paragraphs in a Milwaukee paper about this summer school. One of my former teachers from Milwaukee was going to be there for a few weeks." Hazel applied. "Unbeknownst to me, a blessed star fell on my head," she said. German artist Josef Albers had assembled "this incredible faculty" at Black Mountain College, the renowned experimental arts institution in North Carolina.