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NAME: Pena Bonita  
NATION: Mescalero Apache  


Corn Mother Series is a celebration of survival. It is an expression of energy remembered in ceremonial aspects of planting, maintaining, and harvesting. The symbols of the traditional White Painted Woman image and grandmother moon, wind, women, dancers, braids, and birds carry the message of thanks for the gift of life to the Creator, and to the spirits of the ancestors.

In art classes professors teach that culture, religion, politics, have no place in art. Only line, color, and form should be in the artwork. Yet, European church paintings are studied and seen as the highest forms of art ever created. Cultural symbols help keep knowledge of the past surviving and keep perpetuation of social ceremonies alive. This is proven over and over by the power invested in keeping museums and libraries. Thus, I believe in continuing the symbols of survival in my art. Native symbols in art are an expression of survival.

The early drawings by Natives in pencil on notebook paper established the ability to record the Native first hand perspective on warfare. Line drawings by Kiowa artist, Haun-quoh SilverHorn bridged pictographic drawings from paper to muslin. Those documented line drawings still provide inspiration, and for me a simple stylistic approach to producing this series of art pieces.


Born and raised in the southwest, Pena Bonita now lives in New York City where she received her MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York in 1995. Bonita began her artistic career as a visual artist and began photography at age eight with an uncle in her grandmotherís attic, with a Brownie camera. Her work is reflective of Native American values and experiences. She has exhibited and lectured extensively throughout the United States and Canada. In 2004 she was a recipient of the National Foundation Book Award for her short story, Lotto Baby. Her work is held in numerous collections including the Thunderbay Museum, Thunderbay, Canada; Whoopie Goldberg; Colgate; Beth Israel Medical Center; and Long Island University.

Hunter College, City College of New York, MFA
City College of New York, BA
New York City Community College

Studied with Mark Fieldstien and Roy DeCarroca

Group Exhibitions
Relevant: Reflection-Reformation-Revival, Rethinking Contemporary Native American Art, New York, NY
The Importance of In/Visibility, Recent work by Native American Artists Living in New York City, New York, NY
AICH Gallery, New York, NY
Day Break Star Arts Ct., Seattle, WA
Los Angeles Tribal Art, Los Angeles, CA
Bailey-Nelson Gallery, Seattle WA
Bonham Gallery, Fort Worth, TX
Canfield Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Andrews Art Gallery, Albuquerque NM
Gallery 10, Scottsdale AZ
Andrews Art Gallery, Albuquerque NM
Andrews Art Gallery, Albuquerque NM
Andrews Art Gallery, Albuquerque NM
Andrews Art Gallery, Albuquerque NM
Andrews Art Gallery, Albuquerque NM

Group Shows and Exhibitions continued:
New York University, New York City, NY
"Native Americans: The Women and Their Art"
Heye Foundation, American Indian Museum
"So The Spirit Flows" -- Curator, Nadema Agard
American Indian Community House Gallery, NYC, NY
"Looking at America After 500 Years" Curator, Lloyd Oxendine
"Beyond the Horse's Eye"
American Institute of Arts and letters, NYC, NY
P.S. 1 (Project Studios One), Long Island City, NY. - Curator, Lucy Lippard
The Silver Image Gallery. Seattle, WA.
"24 Native Photographer Tour Show" Curator, Jaune Ouick-To- See Smith
Sacred Circle Gallery of American Indian Art. Seattle. Washington
"Defining Our Realities: Native American Women Photographers" Curator,
Gail Trembley
York Quay Gallery, Harborfront Centre, Toronto, Ont. Canada
"Contemporary Native Photography"
Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay, Ont. Canada
Native American and Aleut Indians Gallery, Hamilton, Ont, Canada
"Three Sisters" Curators, Yvonne Maracle and Brenda Mitten
Neuberger Museum, State University of NY. At Purchase, NY.
Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus, Brookville, NY.
"The Political Landscape - Curator, Judy Collischan
Coast-to-Coast Tour, USA. - Curator, Clarissa Sligh
"A Women of Color National Artist's Book Project"
ODE'MIN Festival, Laurentian Uni, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
"First Nations Visual and Performing Arts Celebration"
Ceres Gallery, New York City, NY
"Beyond Survival: Old Frontiers/New Visions
Artists Space, New York City, NY
"We The People" -Curators, Jean Fisher and Jimmie Durham
Turtle Bay Museums and Arboretum on the River, Redding, Ca.
Street Level Photography Gallery & Workshop, Glasgow, Scotland
Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ
"Photographing Ourselves," -Curator, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith
Southern Plains Indian Museum, Anadarko, Okla
"Indian Art: Made in New York" Curator, Joanna Osburn Big Feather
"Traditions of Looking"
Via Gambaro Studio-Gallery, Washington, D.C.
"Native American Women Artists Show"
Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo
"The First All-Indian Photography Show"
Contemporary Gallery of American Indians, San Francisco, CA
"Artifacts for the Seventh Generation" Curator, Sara Bates
"Volume I, Book Arts By Native American Artists"
"Personal Preferences" -- Curator, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie
Washington State Capital Museum, Olympia, WA
Regina State Museum, Regina Saskatchewan, CA
"Medicine Show"
Gallery of Manhattan Borough President, NY.
"Masks" Curator, Lloyd Oxendine
Manhattan Community College, New York City, NY
"WOMENSPIRIT: Images of Empowerment" --Curator, DR. Maya Sharpe
Parsons Exhibition Center, New York City, NY.
"Prisoners of War: In My Native Land/ On Foreign Soil" -Curators
Carole Byard and Beverly Singer
Los Angeles Photography Center, Los Angeles, Ca
"The People... Themselves" Curator, Richard Ray Whitman
Cooper Union Humanities Gallery, New York City, NY.
"The Ghost Dance" -Curator, Dr. Cassandra Langer
Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA.
"Celebration of Visual traditions: Part VI
Henry Street Settlement, New York City, NY
"Who is the Virgin of Guadalupe?" --Curator, Nadema Agard
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, New
York City, NY
"Indian Humor" -Curator, Sara Bates

Mixed Blessings by Lucy Lippard Publisher: Pantheon Books NY
American Indians and the Urban Experience by Susan Lobo and Kurt Peters Publisher: AltaMira Press NY
Happily May I Walk by Arlene Hirachfelder Scribuers Press NY
Innate Images by Anne Stepenson America West Vol.5, Phoenix, AZ
Artspace, Southwestern Contemporary Arts Quarterly Vol. 9 No. 4
"Photographing Ourselves"
San Francisco Arts Monthly September 1990 Vol. 1 No. 6
Native Artists in the Big Apple by Tim Johnson Turtle Quarterly
Summer 1988 Vol. 2, No.3
Seasons, The National Native American aids Prevention Quarterly
Summer 1989 Oakland, CA.
Heard Museum Newsletter May/June 1985 Phoenix, AZ
Vol 28, No.5
The IAIA "Indian Art: Made in New York February 1997

National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian Institution, "Critical Images: Dialogues on Contemporary Native Art" New York City, NY
Native Indian/Inuit Photographers' Association Hamiliton, Ontario. Canada
New York University, "Native Americans: The Women and Their Art" NYC, NY
NYFAI/Women's Center for Learning, "Beyond Survival" New York City, NY
University of Arizona "Photography Symposium of 2004" Tucson, AZ

Thunder Bay Museum "OLD BONES" Thunder Bay, Ontario. Canada
Washington State Capital Gallery "Corn Patch Series" Olimpia, WASH
National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian Institution "Indian Humor"
Long Island University "The Political Landscape" Brookville, NY
Queens Museum "Stalled Series" Queens, NY
Colgate Palmolive "Indian on a Phone" New York City, NY