Photo of Norbert Peshlakai.Peshlakai Vision was the first solo museum exhibition to honor master Navajo silversmith Norbert Peshlakai (born 1953, Fort Defiance, Arizona; Towering House Clan), whose career spans over 40 years. Peshlakai Vision was on display from May 13, 2018, through October 7, 2018, in the Schultz Gallery of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Click here to download the exhibition’s digital gallery guide. 

Peshlakai Vision featured over one hundred pieces, including jewelry, vessels, and small sculptural works, some inlaid with precious materials and marked with Peshlakai’s signature stampwork. Technical perfection and a sense of humor permeate Peshlakai’s work. Since his first forays in silversmithing at the Haskell Indian Junior College, Peshlakai has created a distinctive style. His development will be seen in works ranging from the late 1970s to the present. Works will include pieces from the museum’s permanent collection, as well as loans from The Heard Museum, The Eddie Basha Collection, and more than thirty private lenders nationwide.


Throughout the exhibition, Peshlakai’s stamping skills are demonstrated through patterns and fanciful scenes rich in symbols. His stampwork includes geometric, abstract shapes, as well as representative imagery such as people, plants, and a wide variety of animals – quails, rabbits, dogs, owls, fish, turtles, horses, bears, butterflies, and even jellyfish. “Cowboy Slim” is one whimsical character makes multiple appearances in Peshlakai Vision. Some works are marked with glyphs that correspond to Peshlakai’s fanciful alphabet – a hat band with the full alphabet set was on display.


Sketchbooks and tools further illuminated his process. A short film on Peshlakai was on view, created especially for the exhibition by Wheelwright Museum intern and New Mexico Highlands University student Faith Toledo (Navajo). Work by Peshlakai’s wife Linda and their grown children Natasha and Aaron will also be highlighted, revealing individualistic flairs and a discernible family style.


Norbert’s exhibition and accompanying programming were made possible by a major lead gift from Mary G. Hamilton. For their additional generous gifts in honor of Norbert, we also thank The Eddie Basha Collection, Leslie Beebe and Bruce Nussbaum, Alfred and Susan Chandler, Carole Katz, Pannonia Foundation, and Yara and Gerald Pitchford.

For their support of this and other exhibitions in 2018, we express our gratitude to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Ludwig and Nancy Sternberger Charitable Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Marcia and Alan Docter; Jim and Olga Hutson-Wiley; the Estate of Rex Bernard Mason; William and Marcia Berman; Charlotte G. Mittler; Martha L. Albrecht; Leonie F. Batkin and Ronald Thorn; William and Kathleen Howard; Phyllis Lehmberg; James V. and Dana Pope Manning; David and Joan Wenger; New Mexico Arts, a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts; Mark and Polly Addison; Darla and George Cox; Glenn Green Galleries; Mary Dale and Jim Gordon; Daniel Hidding; Patricia MacLaughlin; William A. Miller; Sally and T. G. Mittler; Sallyann Paschall; the Young Boozer Family Foundation; FRIENDS of the Wheelwright Museum; Chad and Erika Burkhardt; Ellen and James W. Hubbell III; Sara Lieberman; Beverly and Michael Morris; Karla and Jean Michel Rendu; James Roche, Laurene J. Thompson; and many other donors.

The Wheelwright Museum and the Peshlakai Family also wish to thank the 36 lenders, without whose support we could not have presented this exhibition.