MARCIA KEEGAN has been photographing throughout all 19 New Mexico Pueblos and Navajo country for more than 30 years, documenting traditional Southwestern Indian lives, culture and landscapes with bold, compelling shapes and colors. Celebrating the natural beauty of the Southwest and the traditions of the Native Americans who are her friends, she shares their spiritual involvement with the land and effectively conveys it through her work. She is the only photographer to have taken pictures in all nineteen New Mexico Pueblos.
A native of the Southwest, Keegan was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After receiving her degree from the University of New Mexico and working for a number of years as a photographer for the Albuquerque Tribune and the Albuquerque Journal, she moved to New York City to pursue a career as a feature photographer for the Associated Press, then as a free-lance photographer, covering stories for national magazines and book publishers. During these years, Keegan used her photography as the medium to participate in and record the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war protests, life in the ghettos and the fight for equality for all, especially the Native American peoples. Her goal at this time was illuminating the problems and injustices she witnessed in hopes that her photos could help bring about change.
In the early 70s, Keegan was living in New York and received a New Mexico book assignment from Viking. Her purpose was again to expose what was wrong, the destruction of Black Mesa, with the aim of promoting change. While back in her adopted state of New Mexico, she discovered a new sense of peace and of the sacredness of life among all peoples, particularly in the Pueblo and Navajo cultures. The entire focus of her career changed from exposing what is wrong to illuminating the beauty and holiness of what is right. Instead of a book about environmental destruction, she returned with one about the true meaning of sacred land and the triumph of the human spirit, Mother Earth, Father Sky. Her involvement in the fight for the return of the sacred Blue Lake to the Taos Indians lead to the publication of Taos Pueblo and Its Sacred Blue Lake. Since that time, Keegan has worked for peace and justice by showing the public through her books how the traditional values of the Pueblo and Navajo peoples need to be protected and cherished, how these values of the sacredness of all life and harmony with the natural world can lead to world peace. Keegan has traveled to the Himalayans and been involved in the Tibetan culture as well. In 1979, she introduced the Dalai Lama to the Hopi.
In 1988 Keegan and her husband, Harmon Houghton, started their own company, Clear Light Publishing. As vice-president and co-owner, she has been involved with book design, production, editorial supervision and publicity/promotion. In keeping with her devotion to the ideals of a peaceful world, the focus of the publishing company has been books to enhance the human spirit.
Several books featuring Keegan’s photographs are available from Clear Light Publishing. These include the aforementioned Taos Pueblo and Its Sacred Blue Lake (commemorating in words and photos the return of Blue Lake to the Taos People) and Mother Earth, Father Sky (a beautiful volume of color photographs enhanced by Native songs, prayers and chants). Later works include Enduring Culture (pairing of modern photos by Keegan with those of frontier photographers, showing how Native American culture has endured through the years); New Mexico (Keegan’s photographic love poem to the land and peoples of her adopted home); Pueblo Girls (a chronicle of how traditional and modern ways mix in the lives of two young sisters at San Ildefonso Pueblo); The Southwest Indian Cookbook (Native recipes augmented by bits of history and folklore, illustrated with Keegan’s color photography); and Pueblo People: Ancient Traditions, Modern Lives (her greatest work, containing studies of all 19 New Mexico Pueblos, celebrating the beauty of the landscape and the richness of the cultures and lives coexisting in harmony with that landscape—all with the intimacy of a personal photo album).
Keegan and Clear Light have also published several books illuminating the culture and the land of Tibet and the Himalayas. Ocean of Wisdom features the words of the Dalai Lama and Keegan’s photographs of Tibet. Ancient Wisdom, Living Tradition: the Spirit of Tibet in the Himalayas brings alive the cultural-spiritual traditions of the peoples and the beauty of the lands of Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, and Ladakh. Recently Keegan’s photographs have been featured in Glenn H. Mullin’s seminal study on the role of the feminine in Tibetan Buddhism, Female Buddhas: Women of Enlightenment in Tibetan Mystical Art.
Keegan’s photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the White House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kansas City Museum, the Philbrook Art Museum in Tulsa, the Albuquerque Museum…
Marcia was awarded the Heritage Preservation Award for Lifetime Achievement 2016 Santa Fe, NM