Originally Published: August 14, 2018 10:14 p.m.
Updated as of Tuesday, August 14, 2018 10:21 PM
The Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board is donating two paintings by Prescott artist Kate Thomson Cory to a collection on exhibit at the Smoki Museum of American Indian Art & Culture.
The paintings, one of a Hopi mother and child and another an Impressionist style desert scene, were apparently donated to Prescott High School, and may have at one time been on display, but district leaders determined that the museum would be the best place to showcase Cory’s artwork.
Cory was born in 1861 in Waukegan, Illinois, and at age 25 started taking art classes. In 1912, she moved to Prescott and three years later was commissioned to paint two portraits of leaders in the second Arizona state Legislature that remain in the Capital in Phoenix to this day.
Influenced by her relationships with Native Americans, particularly Hopi Indians, Cory’s paintings depicted those relationships, including those with the Smoki people who she worked with to authenticate their rituals honoring Native Americans in the 1920s. In 1956, Cory moved into the Arizona Pioneer Home where she died two years later.
PUSD Superintendent Joe Howard said the district opted to indefinitely donate these framed paintings to the Smoki Museum because that was a more appropriate setting than any one school building. Cory was quite involved with the Smoki people, and so it seems suitable that this art be added to other pieces in the museum’s collection.
Museum officials explained that most of their collection relates to her connections with Native American tribes, but even though one of these is a landscape, they are pleased to accept any donations of her artwork.
“She was a pretty neat lady,” Howard said.