Mateo Romero, American (Cochiti Pueblo), born 1966

Bloom (Kayla Gebeck), from The Dartmouth Pow-Wow Suite

  • 2009
  • Photo transfer and acrylic paint on panel
  • 60 × 40 in.

Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W’18 Fund; 2010.53.5. ©Mateo Romero

visibilityLook & Discuss

Mateo Romero, Dartmouth Class of 1989, created this nearly life-size painting of Kayla Gebeck, Red Lake Anishinaabe, Class of 2012, as she danced at the College’s annual powwow. A powwow is a ceremonial event that brings native people together to visit, dance, and sing. Gebeck chose to wear regalia, traditional clothing worn for special occasions, as she performed.

Explore the Object

In 2009, the Hood Museum of Art commissioned Mateo Romero to create 10 paintings inspired by the Dartmouth Powwow of that year. He traveled to Dartmouth and took photographs of dancers in tribal regalia. He then transferred a selection of the photos to panel and painted over and around the images. In these works, Romero uses energetic, visible brushstrokes in thick layers of paint to suggest rhythm and movement. On this rich surface, the dancer seems to float in space.

The subject of the work, Kayla Gebek, said this about the dress she is wearing in the painting:

The Jingle dress originated from the Anishinaabe people. Although it was originally used for ceremonial purposes and represents strength and healing, the Jingle dress has played an important role in my life. Dancing from the time I could walk, I embraced all of the components of the dance; the history, significance, symbolic role, and even the process of making the dress and associated regalia. With this in mind, when I dance, I dance for my family and my elders, giving strength and pride to my people. For this reason, it is even more important for me to continue sharing my dance with the Dartmouth community.

meet the artist

Image11 Mateo Romero.jpg

Mateo Romero was born in Berkeley, California. His father, grandmother, and brother are also artists. His brother’s work is featured in the Histories and Identities section of the Southwest regional resource. He attended Dartmouth College and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and earned an MFA in printmaking at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Today, he is not only a successful painter but also a writer, curator, and educator.

He has said:

In many Native communities the dance holds a powerful, central place in the structure of the worldview. Dances are, at different times, social, amorous, honoring, ceremonial, spiritual. In the Tewa Pueblos in northern New Mexico, dancers entering the houses of their relatives say, “We Dance for Life.” It is in this spirit that I offer these paintings to the audience. 

learn more

Meet Kayla Gebeck as she discusses the importance of dance and the creation and wearing of regalia.

In this video, Mateo Romero speaks about his experience as an art student at Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Pow-Wow Suite.

Northeast Woodlands: Clothing & Regalia