Velino Shije Herrera

(1902 -1973)

"The Buffalo Hunt" Mural by Velino Herrera

Velino Herrera was born in Zia Pueblo, New Mexico in 1902 and died in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1973.

Herrera attended school in Santa Fe and was started in art by Dr. Edgar L. Hewett. He began painting about 1917 and had a successful studio in Santa Fe in 1932. He was a painting instructor at the Albuquerque Indian School in 1936. Herrera was a part of the "San Ildefonso movement" in the Rio Grande area that established the trends in art for the pueblos. His "Buffalo Dancer" is a much copied work.
Herrera painted under the sponsorship of the School of American Research,and in the late 1930s Herrera taught painting at the Albuquerque Indian School. In 1939 he was commissioned to create a series of murals for the Department of the Interior building in Washington, D.C. In the late 1940s the Koshare Indian Dancers commissioned Velino to do ten murals for the Koshare Kiva in La Junta, Colorado.

Velino was also known by his Indian name of Ma Pe Wi (Oriole, or Red Bird) and nicknamed the "singing artist" because as he drew, he would sing songs appropriate for the ceremony he was depicting. Ma Pe Wi is the name by which he signed paintings.

Herrera gave permission to the state of New Mexico to adapt his design of the Zia sun symbol for use as the state logo. He was accused of betraying his tribe for giving a sacred design to non-Natives and excommunicated from the pueblo. Zia Pueblo has made repeated attempts to remove the sacred symbol from the state's flag.

Velino ceased painting in 1950 following a disabling auto accident. He spent much of his life as a rancher and cowboy, until his death in 1973.

"Animal Dance" Mural by Velino Herrera

See Also:

Herrera Art Work