Coming of Age Mescalero Apache Maidens: Photography Exhibit August 14 - 21, 2019 at Shelby House Santa Fe

I am proud to announce that an exhibit of my photographic project, Coming of Age Ceremony: Mescalero Apache Maidens will be on display at Shelby House in Santa Fe, New Mexico from August 14 - 21, 2019. An artist reception will be held on Wednesday, August 14, from 5-7 p.m. corresponding with the beginning of Santa Fe’s annual 2019 Indian Market Week. Members of the Mescalero tribe will be in attendance.

As an invited guest of the family, I was asked to witness the Coming of Age Ceremony of two maidens during two separate celebrations and was honored to bear witness with my camera to these sacred and very private preparations and ceremonies.

Coming of Age Ceremony: Portrait of Mescalero Apache Women by Jan Butchofsky will be on display at Shelby House in Santa Fe August 14 - 21, 2019.

Coming of Age Ceremony: Portrait of Mescalero Apache Women by Jan Butchofsky will be on display at Shelby House in Santa Fe August 14 - 21, 2019.

The Mescalero Apache people, descendants of the great warrior Geronimo, have a strong ceremonial tradition to initiate girls into womanhood. Considered one of the most sacred celebrations of the Mescalero, the four-day rite of passage for the maiden reflects the tribe’s way of life involving complete community commitment.  Preparation for the Coming of Age Ceremony begins at least a year in advance with every detail meticulously carried out.  Pollen from water plants is gathered for blessings, teepee poles are cut and canvas is sewn. The maiden's dress is a very important part of the celebration, often made of deer hides harvested especially for the occasion.  Dancers are arranged, most notably the dancers of the Mountain Gods, and a Medicine Man and Medicine Woman are selected. Cattle are raised and butchered so that elaborate feasts of traditional food can be served to all the guests every day of the ceremony.   

The four-day maiden ceremony reflects the four days needed to create the world and the maiden embodies the virtues of the White Painted Woman, who gave the Apache’s their virtues, pleasant aspects of life and longevity. Many rituals and blessings are performed during the celebration, culminating in all-night dance, drumming and singing with the maiden and her attendants in the Ceremonial Teepee.  At dawn, transformed, the maiden runs towards her future and the hopes of her community.

Please join me for this very special event. I will be in residence at Shelby House, Monday to Saturday, 11 am -6 pm, Sunday, Noon - 5 pm.

About the Photographer:

Jan Butchofsky is is an award-winning photographer specializing in travel and culture. Her photography embodies a sense of spontaneity and careful attention to detail. Her photographs get to the heart of the matter, transforming events and situations into revelations, images that you can feel.

About Shelby House:

Shelby House is Santa Fe’s premier multi-use event space located in a historic, commercial property—formerly a private home. Shelby House hosts private parties, charitable events, pop- up retail and art exhibitions, while featuring a carefully curated selection of products celebrating the cocktail hour, entertaining at home and the art of gift giving. Cofounders Liz Rees and Leon Morrison bring years of market and retail experience to their latest venture. For more information,