Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Announces the First Recipient of the Allan Houser Scholarship 

Dr. Robert Martin, Maria Fairbanks, and Fran Mullin

Dr. Robert Martin, Maria Fairbanks, and Fran Mullin

Published September 27, 2015

SANTA FE—In a beautiful ceremony at the Compound Restaurant in Santa Fe, IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation) announced the first recipient of the prestigious Allan Houser Scholarship.  IAIA student Maria Fairbanks (Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Band of Lake Superior), a sophomore majoring in studio arts (jewelry) with a minor in performing arts, has been named as the honoree.

Allan Houser (Chiricahua Apache), was born on June 30, 1914 as Allan C. Haozous.  He became known as one of the 20th century’s most important artists. Allan Houser’s father, Sam Haozous, and famed Apache leader Geronimo were first cousins.

At an early age Allan became interested in the images he saw in magazines and books. He soon began making his own drawings and carvings. In 1934 a notice for an art school in Santa Fe attracted his attention, and he enrolled in the Painting School at the Santa Fe Indian School.  Allan became its most famous student and by 1939 his work was exhibited in San Francisco, Washington, D. C., and Chicago. In the same year he received a commission to paint a mural in the Department of Interiorbuilding in Washington, and its success led to a second mural commission there in 1940.

Allan married Anna Marie Gallegos in 1939, and together with their family, they moved to Los Angeles in 1941. It was here that Allan had the opportunity to visit museum exhibitions of European modernists such as Brancusi, Arp, Lipschitz, andHenry Moore, whose work would have a lasting influence on Allan as his own style evolved in the succeeding decades.

In 1947 Allan was commissioned by the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, to do a memorial sculpture honoring the Native American students from Haskell who had died in World War II. Completed in 1948, this work entitled “Comrade in Mourning”was his first major marble carving. In 1951 Allan moved to Brigham City, Utah, where he taught art at the Inter-Mountain Indian School for the next eleven years. He continued to paint and produce small wooden sculptures, and in 1954 he was honored by the French government with the Palmes d’Acadamique for his outstanding achievement as a teacher and artist.

In 1962 Allan was asked to join the faculty of the newly created Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. There he created the sculpture department and began focusing his own artistic output on three-dimensional work. As he taught and created sculpture he began integrating the aesthetics of the modernists with his narrative ideas. By the late 1960’s he began exhibiting these sculpture and recognition of his unique style grew. Museums and private collectors sought out examples, and his influence became apparent on hundreds of students and other artists. In 1975 Allan retired from teaching to devote himself full-time to his own work. In the two following decades he would produce close to 1,000 sculptures in stone, wood, and bronze, and emerged as a major figure on an international scale. He had nearly 50 solo exhibitions in museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and he continued working tirelessly until his death on August 22, 1994.
The Allan Houser Scholarship was created in 2014 in honor of the 100th anniversary of Allan Houser’s birth.  Mr. Fran Mullin, a successful businessman with a large a collection of Houser’s art, was instrumental in helping to establish the endowed scholarship fund. Through his leadership, vision, and generous matching gifts, the fund is growing rapidly.

Many thanks go to The Compound Restaurant for its key role in sponsoring and hosting a variety of events to build and promote the scholarship.  This tuition scholarship is awarded to an IAIA student who has completed at least one academic year at IAIA, demonstrated artistic merit and financial need, is studying for a BFA in Studio Arts, and is an enrolled member of one of the federally recognized Tribes in the US.  The recipient of the scholarship will receive the Allan Houser Scholarship medallion, produced by Allan Houser, Inc.

Alex Shapiro, Director of Institutional Advancement for IAIA had this to say:  “We are so grateful to Mr. Mullin for his visionary leadership in establishing the scholarship and to the many other donors whose generosity makes this opportunity possible for our students.”

Donors interested in contributing to the Allan Houser Scholarship Fund may contact Alex Shapiro at 505.424.2309 or at

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