High stakes and high pressure for the judges and the artists—the Santa Fe Indian Best of Show Awards can launch careers or provide greatly deserved recognition for longstanding market artists. The offerings this year were ambitious and as diverse as the artists themselves, whole hail from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic.
SWAIA executive direct Ira Wilson (Diné) announced the winners. Some artists were so overcome by emotion, they just had to take a deep breath and hold a moment of silence.
Among the numerous special awards were the IAIA Distinguished Alumni Award, which went to Shane Hendren (Diné) and the new Art of Technology Award, which went to Adrian Standing Elk Pinnecoose (Diné-Southern Ute).
A curious development was the elimination of Classification X: Moving Images. Its removal was not mentioned.
The 2018 Best of Show winner was Kevin Pourier (Oglala Lakota) for his inlaid buffalo horn concha belt, Winyan Wanakisin (Women Defenders of Others). In an emotionally stirring acceptance speech, Pourier thanked his wife, Valerie Pourier for inspiring him to celebrate the Indigenous women leaders throughout the centuries including the recent women who launched the Idle No More and Standing Rock movements.