Islamic Influence on Spanish Colonial Art

Islamic Influence on Spanish Colonial Art

Robin Gavin, Chief Curator, Spanish Colonial Arts Society (retired)
October 14, 2018

In the 19th century, Santa Fe, in the territory of New Mexico, was a destination for travelers seeking to buy silver filigree jewelry. In fact, it was the only location in the country where such handmade work could be found. So how did it come to pass that this delicate and exotic art form was available on the remote frontier and not in the bustling cities of New York or Philadelphia? Most likely because its origins were in Islamic Spain. This presentation will highlight the enduring influence of Islamic arts and culture on the arts and culture of New Spain and the American Southwest through architecture, ceramics, silverwork, textiles, language and agriculture.

Robin Farwell Gavin recently retired from her position as chief curator for the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe, N.M.  She began her museum career as an archaeologist with the Museum of New Mexico’s Office of Archaeological Studies. After several years in the field, she returned to graduate school in Art History at UNM and then joined the team that created the groundbreaking Hispanic Heritage Wing at the Museum of International Folk Art.  She served as Curator of Spanish Colonial Art at that same museum from 1987 until 2003, when she joined the staff of the new Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. She has been the lead curator for over 30 exhibitions concerning the Spanish colonial arts of Mexico and New Mexico. Her publications include Converging Streams: Art of the Hispanic and Native American Southwest (2010; co-edited with William Wroth), Cerámica y Cultura: the Story of Spanish and Mexican Mayólica (2003), and Traditional Arts of Spanish New Mexico: the Hispanic Heritage Wing at the Museum of International Folk Art (1994). Robin is currently working on a publication on New Mexico furniture of the 20th century.

Supported by Urban Enhancement Trust Fund, Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group
and Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union