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Phoebe Farris papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 471

Scope and Contents

The Phoebe Farris papers document the professional and personal life of Purdue professor, Phoebe Farris. It reflects her contribution to the art scene in America, shedding light on Native American history. The collection may be useful for researchers interested in Purdue's Native American community. The types of materials include written publications and reviews of others' publications; contributions to art shows and exhibitions; correspondence; career and personal photographs; and articles.


  • 1972 - 2011


Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Donor retains copyright of original artwork and photographs until copyright expires. Copyright of all other materials held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Born in 1952, Phoebe Farris established herself as a well-known artist, a professor, a licensed CCR/DUNS art curator/dealer, a registered art therapist, a documentary photographer, an author, and an editor. Under these plethora of roles, she explored issues relating to race, gender, indigenous sovereignty, Native American Studies, peace, social justice, and the environment.

Born into a family deeply involved in literary and visual art, Farris received a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the City College of the City University of New York in 1974, a Master’s degree in Art Therapy from Pratt Institute, New York, in 1977, and a Doctorate in Art Education from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1988. She proudly identified herself as a part of the Powhatan-Renape/Pamunkey, a Native American tribe, and was forthcoming in dealing with national/international indigenous rights issues.

Seeking out and pursuing areas for which she had great passion, Farris was able to set an exciting and enviable career path for herself. She embarked on her career as a painter/printmaker but soon took interest in photography. In addition to photographing structures of spiritual and cultural significance to Native Americans, Farris turned to photography as a means of documenting and sharing stories of cultural survival and contemporary cultural expression.

Phoebe Farris played an active role in many art shows and exhibitions. She was one amongst thirty-nine artists whose works are featured in the traveling exhibition The Map Is Not The Territory, Parallel Paths: Palestinians, Native Americans, Irish. Apart from the many exhibitions she had been a part of, she also wrote and reviewed many publications related to topics encompassing Art Education, Cultural Research, Native American, African American and Latin American heritage. Two significant publications of hers are Voices of Color: Art and Society in the Americas and Women Artists of Color: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas and these evoke amongst the readers, the understanding of the relationship between social activism and the arts.

Phoebe Farris was a professor of art design and women’s studies at Purdue University for twenty-two years. She considered this period of her career as the peak of her professional endeavors. As a professor, she was able to travel to different countries, and collaborate on projects with individuals who shared the same interests. Moreover, Farris consulted for the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian Art and taught at the Corcoran School of Arts.

Purdue College of Liberal Arts website -;

"In her Words: Phoebe Farris". Donna M. E. Banks, Mongoos Magazine. 7 November, 2013;

National Museum of the American Indian website -


1.50 Cubic Feet (One cubic foot box, one full-width letter-size manuscript box, one flash drive, and one optical disk)

Language of Materials


Technical Access Information

Digital and audiovisual material in this collection are unprocessed and unavailable for access at this time. If you have any questions or would like to request access please contact an archivist. At this time, due to a lack of equipment we are unable to process and provide access to the videocassette.

Acquisition Information

Collection was donated by Phoebe Farris, February 17, 2011. Additions were made February 23, 24, 25, May 5 and December 12, 2011.

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been maintained. All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes.



Phoebe Farris papers
Aarthi Devarajan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
First edition.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States