was the foremost scholar of Hispanic folk art in New Mexico in the mid-twentieth century. Born in Philadelphia as Elizabeth Boyd White, she adopted the professionalname of E.Boyd to disguise her sex because of the lack of respect given to female scholars at the time. Boyd attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for four years, and spent two years studying art in Europe before moving to Santa Fe, in 1929, where she became a member of a group of modernists, the Rio GrandePainters. In 1936 she began work under the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Federal Art Project as a researcher and watercolorist for the
Portfolio of Spanish Colonial Design
(1937), a precursor of the national
Index of American Design,
an ambitious WPA project to record American folk arts and crafts. Throughthis experience she realized how little was known about Hispanic arts of New Mexico, and she dedicated the rest of her life to their study. In the late 1940s she became registrar at the Los Angeles County Museum, and in 1951 was appointed curator of the Spanish Colonial collection at the Museum of New Mexico, a position she held for the rest of her life.Boyd’s research followed the pioneering but unsystematic efforts of writer Mary Austin and artist Frank Applegate, who in 1926 had founded the Spanish ColonialArts Society in Santa Fe; both were avid collectors and promoters of Hispanic folk arts. While Boyd was interested in all the Hispanic arts, her most importantcontributions were in the study of New Mexican
(carved and painted figures of saints). In the 1940s Boyd and a few other scholars, such as Mitchell Wilder and William S.Stallings, did the first serious research and writing.on the subject of
identifying many of the eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury artists as well asdating their work. Much of Boyd’s work was based on field research; she made numerous trips to isolated Hispanic villages and interviewed descendants of the artistsand others knowledgeable about the folk art traditions. She also was a self-taught conservator and was responsible for the preservation of several important altar screens in village churches. Her major work,
Popular Arts of Spanish New Mexico,
was published posthumously in 1974, and it remains a valuable source today.Scholars are greatly indebted to E.Boyd for establishing the basic outline of the field of Hispanic New Mexican folk arts, and for providing much valuable field data thatotherwise would have been lost.
Bultos; Retablos; Santeros
Popular Arts of Spanish New Mexico.
Santa Fe, N.Mex., 1974.Weigle, Marta, ed.
Hispanic Arts and Ethnohistory in the Southwest: New Papers Inspired by the Work of E. Boyd.
Santa Fe, N.Mex., 1983.