The accomplishments of Kenneth Milton Chapman – a leading force in the revitalization of Pueblo pottery in the 1920s – are as varied as they are significant. Chapman was instrumental in the establishment of the Museum of New Mexico (UNM), in Albuquerque, and the School of American Research and the Laboratory of Anthropology, in Santa Fe. He was widely recognized for his knowledge of Pueblo pottery design elements and was UNM’s first professor of Indian arts.
Chapman had come from Chicago, where he had been working as a commercial artist and taking classes at the Art Institute. When he contracted tuberculosis he traveled to the Southwest, settling in Las Vegas, New Mexico. His many collaborations with Edgar Hewitt – as an artist, educator, archeologist, and preservationist – resulted in Chapman’s move to Santa Fe.
Serving as a staff member at the Museum of New Mexico during its formative years had its benefits. The artist was given new opportunities to develop his skills and to work closely with the growing number of artists, many of them Native American, sponsored by the museum. Ultimately, he decided to focus on promoting Native American art, and his position at the University allowed him time to research and write. The majority of his texts were published posthumously, after his death at 92.