Gerónima Cruz Montoya

Gerónima Cruz Montoya (Potsunu) (September 22, 1915 – January 2, 2015) was an Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo artist and educator from New Mexico. She taught Native American artists at the Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School.

Gerónima Cruz Montoya
Geronima Cruz Montoya.jpg
Gerónima Cruz Montoya (Photo by Clyde Mueller)
Gerónima Cruz

(1915-09-22)September 22, 1915
DiedJanuary 2, 2015(2015-01-02) (aged 99)
NationalityOhkay Owingeh Pueblo, American
EducationThe Studio
Known forPainting
MovementStudio flatstyle painting
AwardsSanta Fe Living Treasure (2004),[1] Santa Fe Indian Market poster artist (2010)

Early life and educationEdit

Her parents were Pablo Cruz and Crucita Trujillo, both of Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico, where she was born. Her Pueblo name is "Potsunu", meaning "shell", and it is with this name that she signs her work. Her mother was a well respected potter and it was from her that Montoya learned the basics.[2] She then studied at the Santa Fe Indian School with Dorothy Dunn, from which she graduated as the valedictorian in her class in 1935,[3] and at Claremont College.


Montoya taught painting at the Santa Fe Indian School from 1937 until 1961.[3][4] While Dorothy Dunn was known for developing the Studio program at the Indian School, 1932–37, Montoya was the first Native American to teach painting there for over 24 years.[5] One of the students at the School during her time there was Tonita Peña's son Joe Herrera.[6]

Death and legacyEdit

For her work as both teacher and painter, Montoya was awarded the 1994 Art and Cultural Achievement Award by the National Museum of the American Indian.[7] In 1963 Montoya started an art education program at Ohkay Owingeh and in 1968 she founded the Oke'Oweege Artistic Cooperative there.[8] Montoya died on January 2, 2015 at the age of 99.[3]

Further readingEdit

  • Jeanne Shutes and Jill Mellick, The Worlds of P'otsunu: Geronima Cruz Montoya of San Juan Pueblo, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0826316431.


  1. ^ "Geronima Cruz Montoya". Santa Fe Living Treasures: Elder Stories. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  2. ^ Heller, Jules and Nancy G, Heller, ed., "North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary" Garland Reference Library of the Humanities (Vol. 1219), Garland Publishing Company, New York & London, 1995
  3. ^ a b c "Artist Gerónima Cruz Montoya (P´otsúnú) Walks On at 99". Native News Online. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  4. ^ Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed., Who’s Who in American Art, The American Federation of Arts, R.R. Bowker Company, NY, 1963
  5. ^ Brody, J.J. (1971). Indian Painters and White Patrons. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. p. 128.
  6. ^ Berlo, Janet C.; Phillips, Ruth B. (1998). Native North American Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 219–223.
  7. ^ Schaaf, Gregory (1998). St. James Guide to Native North American Artists. Detroit: St. James Press. p. 389. ISBN 1558622217.
  8. ^ Broder, Patricia (1999). Earth Songs, Moon Dreams : Paintings by American Indian Women. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 42. ISBN 0312205341.