Monday, July 23, 2012


Pueblo by megan_n_smith_99
Pueblo, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I have been fascinated by the architecture of SW Native American tribes since I first saw photos - probably when I was in grade school. I have not seen any in person - yet. (Some are open to the public.) The Southwest is one of my favorite places and I hope I do get to spend more time there. So far I've only been to Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

One of my favorite books is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. She describes her main character's first view of Pueblo architecture:

“It doesn’t even look like it was built,” I said. “It’s too beautiful. It looks like something alive that just grew here.”
“That’s the idea.” Loyd seemed as pleased as if he’d built it himself.
“Of what? The idea of Pueblo architecture?”
“Yep. Don’t be some kind of a big hero. No Washington Monuments. Just build something nice that Mother Earth will want to hold in her arms.”

I think that is a good description. Houses built from earth and stone, nestled in earth and stone.

Here's another quote, about Mesa Verde, one of the largest cliff villages. Pierre Tristam says:

" I would have never noticed them had signs not pointed them out from various cliff edges along the canyon. The dwellings seem fit only for misanthropes or outcasts, but were actually households that simply chose to use the environment to their advantage. Much of Anasazi* architecture, from pit-houses to cliff-dwellings, is logical blending with what’s already there rather than an attempt to outdo nature."

*Anasazi was not what the Mesa Verde dwellers called themselves. Again from Pierre Tristam, Anasazi is " a Navajo word that means either “The Old People,” according to the great historian Samuel Elliot Morrison, or “enemy ancestors,” according to writer Alex Shoumatoff (the Anasazi were the Navajo’s sworn enemies), or “ancient ones,” “ancient foreigners” or “ancient enemies,” depending on which National Park Service brochure you read."

I believe it is now PC to call the Mesa Verde builders "Ancestral Puebloans" since the Pueblo tribes are descended from them.

And so, I have painted my idea of the Pueblos, caught between earth and sky, suspended, rising from the earth with swirls of dust.

8 x 8"
Watercolor, colored pencil, and ink
Available on Etsy.


il_mio_gufo said...

What a very pleasing reflection :D as well, your art shines too!

now, this may sound silly but i've always contemplated having a builder/architect design such a home for my own personal dwelling :} wudya know

Megan Noel said...

Mio - I was just thinking I'd love to see condos designed to look like that. My building is nice - but not very exciting!