Velino Shije Herrera (1902-1973) Ma Pe Wi (Oriole)
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Born at Zia Pueblo in 1902 and died in Santa Fe, NM in 1973, Velino Shije Herrera was a member of the Zia Pueblo Tribe and his Indian name was Ma Pe Wi which means "Oriole." He began painting at the Santa Fe Indian School in 1917. He, along with Awa Tsireh and Fred Kabotie, were encouraged to paint while employed by the School of American Research. They were allowed to paint two to three hours a day, and were not subjected to any white influences whatsoever.
Prior to his employment by the School of American Research, Superintendent and Mrs. J. D. De Huff, at the Santa Fe Indian School, encouraged Ma Pe Wi in his art efforts. Although there was no formal art instruction at the Santa Fe Indian School in the early 1920s, the children were given supplies and allowed to paint what they wished.
Ma Pe Wi had an elementary education, but no formal art training. Proud of the fact that he was self taught-and justly so-he became a leader in the whole Rio Grande movement in developing this native art.
Ma Pe Wi successfully combined Realism with Abstract painting, often in the same painting. A good illustration is this buffalo hunt scene. The buffalo, horse and Indian are portrayed in realistic style, while the clouds and ground plane are portrayed in an abstract style.
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