Lloyd Kiva New – Godfather of Native Fashion

Referred to as the “Godfather of Native Fashion,” seminal Native American artist Lloyd Kiva New first rose to fame in the 1940s and 1950s as a successful fashion designer with innovative Native designs. In the early 1960s, Lloyd Kiva New co-founded the Institute of American Indian Arts where he served as the first art director (1962-1967) then as president (1967-1978). In his popular teachings, New would encourage his students to reject stereotypes of American Indian culture and create works that mixed traditions with imagination. New was an inspirational leader, really pushing design.

“Indian artists have been designers forever,” said Lloyd Kiva New. “At present, the institute is to train fine artists. Just think what we could contribute if we launched a series of programs in the area of design. Ultimately, we would have a whole new set of Indian furniture designers, fabric designers, fashion designers.”

The Story of Lloyd Kiva New

This video does a great job of telling the story of Lloyd Kiva New and how he became a pioneer in Native fashion:

Lloyd Kiva New Centennial Celebration

In 2016, three Santa Fe museums conducted a centennial birthday celebration of Lloyd Kiva New. Here’s what they did:

Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA): Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design, and Influence

The exhibit featured paintings from New’s personal collection, including many never put on display for the public. In addition, the exhibit examined the innovation of New’s Native Modernism fashion and textile designs through a reproduction of his Kiva Studio in the 1950s. The exhibit featured forty printed textiles that Kiva’s students created, focusing on the influence and inspiration he had on others. Visitors were also given the opportunity to create their works based on New’s inspirations.
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture: A New Century: The Life and Legacy of Cherokee Artist and Educator Lloyd “Kiva” New

The exhibit consisted of an analysis of the legacy of New by using photos, archives, objects, and recollections to help tell the story of Lloyd Kiva New.
The New Mexico Museum of Art: Finding a Contemporary Voice: The Legacy of Lloyd Kiva New and IAIA

The exhibit showcased the artwork by former and present IAIA faculty and alumni, showing the contribution these artists have made in contemporary art.
Lloyd Kiva New Honors and Recognition

The American Craft Council declared Lloyd Kiva New an honorary fellow in 1976, and Santa Fe declared him a Living Treasure in 1989. New was also an adviser to the National Museum of the American Indian. The Art Institute of Chicago bestowed an honorary doctorate upon him in 2000.

Lloyd Kiva New Film Trailer

This trailer, “Lloyd Kiva New: An American Entrepreneur” was released in 2020:

New died in 2002.


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