Olivas considers museum internship a wonderful journey

ALAMOSA — The Adams State University Luther Bean Museum and Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center continue to improve, thanks in large part to the generous donation from the Salazar family in 2016.

Their gift to the institution provided scholarship money, funds to improve the museum, through the virtual Salazar Center, and paid for an Adams State student museum internship.

The first intern began working in the fall of 2016, and will finish her internship in the late summer of 2017. Lucie Olivas went through the application and selection process by the Luther Bean Museum committee.

“This internship has been a blessed experience for me,” Olivas said. “I saw an opportunity out there and took advantage to pursue a dream I have had from when I was small to work in a museum.”

Olivas appreciated first learning about the Native American pottery in the museum when Patrick Cruz, a graduate student in archaeology at the University of Colorado, visited the museum in August 2016.

“I had the privilege of learning from Patrick valuable information, such as the symbols on the pottery designs and the techniques used by the different pueblos,” Olivas said.

For the remainder of the fall semester, Olivas researched pottery from the San Juan and Santa Clara Pueblos as well as information on micaceous pots and retablos. She photographed Native American pottery, and completed inventory sheets on vessels for displays, which included measurements, condition of objects, and other information.

Later in the semester, Matthew Barbour, regional manager of Historic Sites New Mexico, visited the museum and shared his expertise on Native American pottery. Olivas said the additional information helped “fill in the blanks” on the inventory sheets and increased her knowledge of the collection.

Throughout the course of her first semester, Olivas also began to create a website dedicated to the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center. She used photos, research notes, and personal experience to build the site which was launched to the public in early 2017. She continued to work on the website documenting her journey as an intern. Visit blogs.adams.edu/salazar-center/ for more information.

Olivas has researched the Native American pottery and the Apache headdresses. Through her continued diligence for accurate information, Olivas has formed a personal connection to the ceramic artists. As a Bachelor of Fine Arts student, she appreciates the importance of caring on a tradition, the process and commitment the pottery artists dedicate to their art form. “The museum has ceramic pottery by Tomasita Montoya and Reycita A. Trujillo.” Both of these women were among the original seven potters in the 1930s who participated in the San Juan pottery revival.

“They were dedicated to keeping the tradition alive,” Olivas said. “I can relate. Through my artwork, photography, I strive to share traditions, culture, and the history of my family, as well as that of the Hispanics,” Olivas said. “This journey has been of an intimate nature. It ties in with what I learned in my Chicano history class, art history, and other art classes I have taken while here at Adams State. For me it has been kind of like a puzzle, lots of pieces coming together that forms a beautiful journey in my life.”

During the academic year, Olivas traveled to four museums including the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, the Southern Ute Museum in Ignacio, the Museum of Indian Arts & Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. At each place she met with curators, toured the facilities, and learned new techniques and museum processes.

By the end of the spring semester, Olivas had designed three display cases focusing on the San Juan/Ohkay Owingeh pottery, the 1930 pottery revival signature pots, and the Zia Pueblo, and assisted with cataloguing and accessioning objects into the collection. She trained on the process for new acquisitions as well as loans.

“I found a great photograph of the San Juan revival potters,” Olivas said. The rights for the photo belong to the New Mexico History Museum. Olivas contacted the museum to acquire permission to use the image. “This is internship has been such a great experience for me.” The Luther Bean Museum purchased a database created especially for museum collections. Olivas hopes to begin work on entering objects this summer.

“I appreciate the knowledge Tawney Becker, Linda Relyea, and Dani Persinger shared with me during this internship,” Olivas said. Becker, Luther Bean Museum collections manager, worked as a curatorial assistant for the Harvard Art Museums and for the Library of Congress. Persinger has a degree in archeology from Miami University in Ohio and after an internship with the Miramont Castle Museum in Manitou Springs, Colo., she was offered the position of museum registrar. Relyea assisted Olivas in photographing objects. “They have shared their passion with me,” Olivas added.

Becker appreciates the dedication of Olivas. “Lucie has been a huge asset to the museum in her enthusiasm, attention to detail, and dedication to collections research, which could not be accomplished without her help. The Salazar internship has heightened the professionalism of museum activity by allowing us to bring in scholars and other experts to inform our research and benefit from the energy and focus of student interns like Lucie.”

Housed in the Luther Bean Museum, the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center is dedicated to preservation of the natural and cultural resources of the upper Rio Grande region. The Luther Bean Museum collection reflects the rich history and archaeology of the Rio Grande in Colorado. This ranges from the ancient history of Native Americans in the Rio Grande gorge to exploration from Santa Fe into the San Luis Valley that began in the 1700s, and the first settlements in Colorado, begun immediately after the Mexican-American War in 1848.

For more information visit adams.edu/lutherbean.

Pictured above, Matthew Barbour shares information on the Adams State Luther Bean Museum Native American collection with Lucie Olivas and Tawney Becker.