(1874 - 1963)
Laura May Adams Armer was active/lived in California. Laura Armer is known for Indian genre and western painting, photography.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Sacramento, California, and raised in San Francisco, Laura
Armer became a well-known painter, illustrator and
photographer. From 1893 to 1898, she studied painting and
drawing with Arthur Mathews at the School of Design in San Francisco
and then established a photography studio in San Francisco in the Flood
Building on the corner of Powell and Market Streets. She married
illustrator Sidney Armer, and they moved to Berkeley where she
established another photography studio in her home. In 1915, she
exhibited her photographs at the Panama-Pacific Exposition.
Biography from the Archives of askART
1923, she made her first trip to the Navajo Reservation in northern
Arizona and became a student of their culture, with a special interest
in sand painting. The Navajo and Hopi Indians trusted her and
allowed her to live and travel freely among them and called her "The
With her husband, as illustrator and herself as photographer, she wrote children's books on Indian culture beginning with Waterless Mountain for which she received the Newberry Award.
1938, the couple had their home in Humboldt County, California where
she lived the rest of her life. Her work can be found in the
Eureka, California Public Library and the Oakland Museum.
Her paintings were autobiographical, showing her responses to
historical events, and her expansive style reflected post-war Abstract
Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the America West
Biography from Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
Born on Jan. 12, 1874 in Sacramento, California, Laura Adams was
educated in the public schools of San Francisco and then studied
painting and drawing under Arthur Mathews at the School of Design
She established a photography studio in the Flood Bldg on the corner of
Powell and Market (1899-1902) and after her marriage to Sidney Armer,
moved to Berkeley where she continued her photography studio in her
home. In the early 1920s she developed a keen interest in Indian
subjects and began sketching and photographing the Hopi and Navajo
reservations of Arizona.
She also wrote children's books on Indian culture, which were
illustrated with her photographs and her husband's illustrations.
In 1938 the Armers moved to Fortuna, California in Humboldt County where she remained for the rest of her life.
Mrs. Armer died in Woodland on March 16, 1963.
Del Monte Art Gallery (Monterey), 1907-10
San Francisco Art Association, 1912, 1925
Gump's Department Store, San Francisco 1924
Berkeley League of Fine Arts, 1924, 1927
California State Fair, 1926
Berkeley Art Museum, 1929 (solo)
Oakland Museum; Eureka Public Library; Eureka Women's Club; Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art (Santa Fe).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Interview with the artist or his/her family; California State Library (Sacramento); California Historical Society Quarterly, summer 1977.Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here
Laura Adams Armer was an American photographer, painter, illustrator and author who was born in Sacramento, California on January 12, 1874. She was educated in the public schools of San Francisco and then studied painting and drawing under Arthur Mathews at the School of Design between 1893 and 1898. She established a photography studio in the Flood Building on the corner of Powell and Market from 1899 to 1902. After her marriage to Sidney Armer in 1902, she moved to Berkeley where she continued her photography studio in her home.
** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
In the early 1920s, she developed a keen interest in Indian subjects and began sketching and photographing the Hopi and Navajo reservations of Arizona. During the late 1920s, Armer lived for awhile on the Navajo Reservation. From her experiences there came Southwest, published in 1935 by Longman's, Green and Company, which she also illustrated. She also wrote children's books on Indian culture, which were illustrated with her photographs and her husband's illustrations. Common to artists during this time, photojournalism was a venue that allowed Armer's photographs to be published. Her books and photographs are listed in various sources on the Internet, for some of which she has received awards.
Armer, along with some others, worked closely with Navajo singers and collected many sand paintings, often from previously unrecorded chants. Armer also made what was probably the first movie of an actual ceremony in February 1928 (Armer 1956, 1961). It was filmed on the sixth day of a nine-night Mountainway ceremony, at the hogan of Hosteen Tsosie near Ganado under the direction of Na-Nai. The movie cost trader Roman Hubbell $15,000 to produce exclusive of goods and gifts. (Everyone who participated in the ceremony had to be given gifts to lessen the opposition.) This film was shown at the International Congress of Americanists in 1929, the American Anthropological Association meeting in 1930 and to numerous civic and women's groups around the country. It greatly expanded Anglo knowledge about Navajo religion. Armer also made a short film of a star gazing divination rite in 1929, which included two sand paintings.
There is record of Armer's work as being exhibited at the San Francisco Art Association in 1925 and the Berkeley League of Fine Art in 1925. Her works are held in the collections of Hubble Trading Post, Oakland Museum and Eureka Public Library.
Mrs. Armer moved to Fortuna, California in Humboldt County in 1938 where she remained for the rest of her life. She died in a Vacaville rest home on March 3, 1963.
Armer, Laura Adams. "A Navajo Sandpainting." University of California Chronicle. Vol. 27, pp. 233-239. 1925.
—"Sandpainting of the Navajo Indians." Leaflets of the Exposition of Indian Tribal Arts. New York. 1931.
—"Navajo Sandpaintings." American Anthropologist. Vol. 33, p. 657. 1931.
—"Two Navajo Sandpaintings, With Certain Comparisons." Masterkey. Vol. 34, p. 79. 1950.
—"The Crawler, Navajo Healer." Masterkey. Vol. 27, no. 1, pp.5-10. 1953.
—"A Visit to the Hopi." Desert Magazine. Vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 24-26. 1960.
—"I Give You Na Nai (Singer of Mountain Chant)." Desert Magazine, Vol. 24, no 2, pp. 15-17. 1961.
Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary.  3 vols. Chicago: Swallow Press. 1985.
Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California: 1786-1940. San Francisco: Hughes Publishing Company. 1986.
Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge. Mallett's Index of Artists: International--Biographical... New York: Peter Smith. 1948.
Parezo, Nancy J. Navajo Sandpainting: From Religious Act to Commercial Art. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 1983.
Personal Communication. The California Historical Society. 678 Mission Street; San Francisco, California 94105; 415-357-1847. 1998.
Wyman, Leland, C. Navaho Sandpainting: The Huckel Collection . Colorado Springs: The Taylor Museum of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. 1971.
HYPERLINK http://www.alephbet.com/cat405 www.alephbet.com/cat405
HYPERLINK http://www.calhist.org/index www.calhist.org/index
HYPERLINK http://www.calhist.org/Support_Info/Collections/Photographs/PhotoAlbums www.calhist.org/Support_Info/Collections/Photographs/PhotoAlbums www.library.cwu.edu/searchaarmes+keit…/frameset&aArmer+Laura+Adams+1874+1963&2,,
HYPERLINK http://www.members.aol.com/emeralbks/indian www.members.aol.com/emeralbks/indian
Share an image of the Artist email@example.com.