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 Kenneth Milton Chapman  (1875 - 1968)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/Indiana / Mexico      Known for: southwest scene painting, educator

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Ad Code: 3
Kenneth Milton Chapman
from Auction House Records.
Untitled (Adobe with Horno)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Ligonier, Indiana, Kenneth Milton Chapman was a painter whose talent was 'discovered' by Dr. Edgar Hewitt, New Mexico archaeologist.  Hewitt offered Chapman a position in the Art Department at New Mexico Normal University, which, in turn, led to Chapman devoting most of his time in the promotion of Southwest Indian art.  He is credited with the study of techniques of lost Indian handicrafts so that they could be revitalized in the pueblos.

He was a student at the Art Students League in New York and earned a Degree of Fine Art from the Art Institute of Chicago.  Shortly after enrollment there, he was forced by the death of his father to get work to earn money. 

Poor health led him to taking an extensive rest, and for diversion, he took up watercolor painting.   In 1899, for subject matter, he moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico and painted local scenes including Indian adobes, which caught the attention of Dr. Hewitt.

Chapman became a member of the first field school of the Museum and School of American Research in New Mexico at the site of the future Bandelier National Monument, and as an artist was historical in that he was the second Anglo artist in Santa Fe, preceded only by Carlos Vierra.

From 1909-29, Kenneth Chapman was curator of Indian art at the Museum of New Mexico where a mural by him is installed in the St. Francis Auditorium.  In 1917, he discovered pictographs in Indian caves at Frijoles Canyon.  He taught Southwest Indian art at the University of New Mexico and wrote books on Indian Pottery including Pueblo Indian Pottery in 1933, and The Pottery of Santo Domingo Pueblo in 1936.  He worked with New Mexico and Arizona Indians, including Navaho painter Apie Begay, whom Chapman encouraged in contemporary expression and lost handicraft arts.

For his work in promoting Indian cultural heritage in the Southwest, Kenneth Chapman received and honorary degree from the University of Arizona in 1951.  Memberships included the American Association for Advancement of Science, Archaeological Institute of America, and the Society for American Anthropology.

Sources include:
Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West, Vol. III
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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