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Known best for his sleek depictions of Native Americans in bronze and his modernist style, Allan Houser is among the most acclaimed twentieth-century sculptors of the Southwest. He was a respected teacher and artist considered by many as the patriarch of contemporary Native American sculptors.
Of Chiricahua Apache descent, Allan Houser (originally Haozous) grew up in a world of farming and ranching, rich with the Apache heritage of his people as taught through the songs and stories of his father. Encouraged by his father to obtain a formal education, Houser studied art, specifically painting, at the Santa Fe Indian Art School with Dorothy Dunn.
His paintings, which were infused with his Native American background, earned him national recognition. In 1939 Houser produced murals for the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco, and the New York World’s Fair, which led to his work as a WPA muralist. He soon after began working in the sculptural medium, following the suggestion of his muralist mentor, Olle Nordmark, His first public sculptural work was a 1948 commission from the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas.
From the early 1950s until his retirement from academic life in 1975, Houser taught at various institutions in the Southwest; his first solo exhibition was presented at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
Houser’s work can be found at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and in numerous major museum collections throughout North America, Europe and Japan. Additionally, Houser’s Offering of the Sacred Pipe is on display at United States Mission to the United Nations in New York City.