The Mexican Cultural Institute is proud to present Anya Montiel as she lectures on William Spratling's Alaska Project in conjunction with the MCI's exhibit Silver on Silver.
In 1945 the U.S. Department of the Interior contracted William Spratling to develop a silver workshop for indigenous Alaskans. Working from his Taxco apprenticeship model, Spratling proposed a six-month training program in Mexico and by October 1948, seven Inuits had arrived in Taxco to learn from Mexican master silversmiths. What followed is an amazing and little-known story about craftsmanship bringing people together in the post-World War II era.
Anya Montiel is a PhD candidate at Yale University and a curatorial fellow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Her dissertation investigates the policies of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, a federal agency created in 1935 to promote Native American art. She received a bachelor's degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of California at Davis and a master's degree in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University. Anya has worked in the museum field for more than ten years and has been a writer for the Smithsonian's American Indian magazine since 2002 where she writes about contemporary Native life and art.