The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) invites the public to view its new exhibit, Spirit Lines: Helen Hardin Etchings, which opens on Friday, June 9.
The exhibit presents rare prints the painter executed late in her career before she died from breast cancer in 1984. It features the entire set of Hardin’s 23 copperplate etchings from the early 1980s, a series that has only been shown publically twice before.
Born in Albuquerque to an Anglo father and Santa Clara Pueblo mother, Hardin was named Tsa-sah-wee-eh (Little Standing Spruce). She studied the art and design of her Native American heritage and was fascinated by the geometric imagery created by prehistoric peoples. Later the artist expressed her feelings of being “Anglo socially and Indian in art.”
While she was influenced early on by the painting of her mother, Pablita Velarde, she wished to create her own style, which became a melding of Native American motifs with modernist geometric abstraction. Subsequently her own daughter, Margarete Bagshaw, became an artist, and together Helen Hardin and her mother and daughter represent one of the few three-generational female painting dynasties.
The bold yet poetic etchings in Spirit Lines showcase Hardin’s desire and talent to absorb yet transcend traditional designs, and create an individual style of relevant, modern works of art.
The presentation of Spirit Lines in El Paso includes the copperplates the artist worked on to create several of her etchings, as well as several contextual examples of Native American pottery, basketry, and kachinas on generous loan from the El Paso Museum of Archaeology and its director, Jeff Romney.