Lesley Poling-Kempes presents a Chautauqua about several women writers of the Southwest. Made possible by the New Mexico Humanities Council (nmhum.org). A Chautauqua is an entertaining lecture and performance, bringing history to life. The technique is named for the resort in Chautauqua, NY, where adults on vacation could learn, beginning in 1874.
Ladies of the Canyons is a lecture/slide show about remarkable women who left the security and comforts of genteel Victorian society and journeyed to the American Southwest in search of a wider view of themselves and their world. Educated, restless, and inquisitive, Natalie Curtis, Carol Stanley, Alice Klauber, and Mary Cabot Wheelwright each left behind the comforts and confines of upper-class American society to explore the land and cultures of the exotic Four Corners Indian Country. They came into the Southwest between 1900 and1922 when the region’s indigenous people were undergoing cultural assault and intellectual scrutiny by the “civilized” world. Each of these women became art and cultural preservationists years before these causes were recognized as American ideals. Their friends included Louisa Wade Wetherill, Alice Corbin Henderson, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Elsie Clews Parsons, Mary Austin, and Willa Cather. Their adventures took them to Monument Valley and Rainbow Bridge, into Canyon de Chelly and the Grand Canyon, across the high mesas of the Hopi, and to the pueblos and the villages along the Rio Grande. Their saga includes Boston’s Brahmins, the Greenwich Village avant-garde, the building of San Diego’s Balboa Park, and the birth of Santa Fe’s art and literary colony.