Helen Hardin, whose Indian name was Tsa-Sah-Wee-Eh, Little Standing Spruce, was from the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico and was perhaps one of the most fascinating, complex, and engaging figures in the American Indian art world in the twentieth century. Her art was one of definitive struggle; to capture, hold, and relish those aspects of her native heritage and yet depart from the Santa Fe/Dorothy Dunn School of her predecessors, including her mother Pablita Velarde (b. 1918).
Helen Hardin's style, so distinctive and compelling for some viewers, began to emerge in the 1970s with a series of Katsina figure paintings. Her personal explorations led her into the works of her Woman Series, such as Changing Woman. Her work is concerned with the intellectual and physical struggle of her very existence, the struggle of woman versus man, patron versus artist, Indian versus Anglo, tradition versus progression. Complex, it is art that is both forward looking and yet rooted firmly in the ancient past.
Helen Hardin died of cancer in 1984.
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