Institute of American Indian Arts Archives Completes Preservation of Pop Chalee Collection

Merina Lujan Hopkins (Pop Chalee) painting under the supervision of Oscar Berninghaus,
c. 1935. MS26. Pop Chalee Collection. IAIA Archives, Santa Fe, NM.

Published May 21, 2018

SANTA FE, NM  – The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Archives completed the arrangement, description, preservation, and digital imaging of the Merina Lujan Hopkins (Pop Chalee) Papers, funded by a grant of the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board (NMHRAB). The finding aid for the collection can be accessed via the Rocky Mountain Online Archive at

The Merina Lujan Hopkins (Pop Chalee) Papers contain mostly photographs and news clippings documenting her career as an artist. Correspondence, ephemera, and a comprehensive scrapbook paint a fairly complete picture of Chalee’s life and career for future researchers.
The archive was a primary resource to The World of Flower Blue: Pop Chalee: An Artistic Biography, by Margaret Cesa (Red Crane Books, 1997). Merina Lujan Hopkins, otherwise know as Pop Chalee (Taos Pueblo) was a celebrated student of Dorothy Dunn at the Santa Fe Indian School during the 1930s and “…transformed a traditional style of painting to create magical, idyllic images of wide-eyed animals, ceremonial figures, and woodland settings,” writes art historian John Villani.

Merina Lujan Hopkins (Pop Chalee) painting at Taos Pueblo, c. 1940. MS26,
Pop Chalee Collection. IAIA Archives, Santa Fe, NM.

“The generous grant from the NMHRAB allowed us to properly preserve and make available this important collection,” states IAIA Archivist Ryan Flahive. “The archive tells the story of an important figure in New Mexican, Native American, and women’s art history and we’re pleased to complete the project.”

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