Mateo Romero, American (Cochiti Pueblo), born 1966

Deer Dancer at Daybreak

  • 2007
  • Oil and mixed media on plywood
  • 60 × 40 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Olivia H. Parker and John O. Parker ’58 Acquisition Fund; 2008.52. ©Mateo Romero

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In his painting Deer Dancer at Daybreak, Mateo Romero honors his Cochiti Pueblo heritage by visually evoking the power of dance.

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Romero 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. My hope is that the works transcend the limits of ethnic culture and address the audience on a human level. (Artist interview, 2010)

Mateo Romero transferred the image of the central figure from a photograph to a large canvas and painted over it, lending the dancer a dreamlike quality, as he appears almost to hover atop the painting’s surface. Colors swirl dynamically around the figure. Romero’s powerful brushstrokes, and bold, sculptural drips reveal the influence of Abstract Expressionist painting.

meet the artist

Image11 Mateo Romero.jpg

Mateo Romero was born in Berkeley, California. His father, grandmother, and brother Diego Romero are also artists. He attended Dartmouth College and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and he earned an MFA degree 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.

Related Works

Compare this work to the doll representing a San Juan Deer Dancer <link to Object 118 page> and the Hunter/Buffalo Dance painting <link to Object 134 page> on this website.

In what ways does this work represent continuity in Native American tradition and culture? In what ways is it innovative and new?

Learn more

In this video, Mateo Romero discusses his experience as a Dartmouth art student and his series of paintings, The Dartmouth Pow-Wow Suite

Southwest: Histories & Identities