Trinity University Presents: Crafting Maya Identity: Contemporary Wood Sculptures from Yucatan, Mexico

October 14-November 20, 2010
The Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery
Jim and Janet Dicke Art Building
Trinity University

This exhibit, which was originally co-curated by Ph.D. candidate Mary Katherine Scott and Dr. Jeff Kowalksi of Northern Illinois University, consists of original wood carvings by Maya artisans (Wilbert Vásquez, Angel Ruíz Novelo, Jesús Marcos Delgado Ku, and Miguel Uc Delgado) from the Yucatán Peninsula of México. The designs are based on images from ancient Maya polychrome ceramics and carvings on stone that have been reinterpreted by these artists in the medium of wood. The exhibit will be showing at Trinity University in The Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery for five weeks (October 14-November 20, 2010) and then will be transported to Mérida, Yucatán for its final gallery showing.

There will be two major events associated with the gallery exhibit. The first will include an opening reception and gallery tour on the evening of Thursday, October 14, 2010 (7:00-9:00 pm). Additionally, we will host a second lecture, reception and gallery tour with Mary Katherine Scott and Jeff Kowalski on the evening of Friday, November 5, 2010. Dr. Kowalski will provide a lecture entitled “Art versus Artifact: Great Divide, Cultural Continuum, or Institutional Category?” in the Ruth Taylor Theater (5:30 pm), which will be following by a gallery tour, led by Mary Katherine Scott. We will also be fortunate to have three of the artisans, Miguel Angel Uc Delgado, Jesus Marcos Delgado Ku, and Angel Aberlardo Ruíz Novelo with us that evening to answer questions as well as sell examples of their work (sales are cash only). The November event will be the kick-off to a major Latin American studies conference (South-Central Conference on Mesoamerica), sponsored by University of Texas at San Antonio to be held that weekend at the downtown UTSA campus. The symposium will bring together major scholars, graduate and undergraduate students of Mesoamerican art history, anthropology and archaeology to share their latest research in the field. (For more information and to register for the conference, go to: http://www.southcentralmeso.org/)

Additionally, the exhibit is inter-disciplinary within the Trinity community, and is bringing together faculty and students from Art and Art History, Latin American Studies, and Sociology and Anthropology. A dozen Trinity students are working with Professor Jennifer Mathews and the gallery staff to put together the exhibit, staff the gallery hours, and assist with the symposium. We will also be hosting hundreds of students through the Upward Bound program, as well as those visiting from various schools in San Antonio. Dr. Angela Breidenstein and four students in the M.A.T. program in the Education Department are developing supporting curricular materials, and Trinity students are designing additional activities related to the ancient and contemporary Maya for students while they are on campus.
The exhibit itself brings up complex issues in defining both the art and the artists. For example, should “tourist art” be considered “kitsch” or is it art? Are these pieces replicas, or do they consist of original interpretations that make up a body of original work?  Are these pieces “more” authentic as art because they have been created by Maya artisans, versus non-Maya artists? An exhibit catalogue will be available for purchase (Crafting Maya Identity: Contemporary Wood Sculptures from the Puuc Region of Yucatán, Mexico, edited by Jeff Kowalski), which includes contributions by scholars including Alfredo Barrera, Janet Berlo, Quetzil Castañeda, Nelson Graburn, Jeff Kowalski, Mary Katherine Scott, and Christopher Steiner.

We hope to bring together students, faculty and members of the community who have a passion for Latin American art, as well as a wide-range of scholars who work in Mesoamerica.  The exhibit has been funded with the generous support of: Henry R. Muñoz III & Kell Muñoz Architects, Mexico, the Americas and Spain (MAS), International Programs, The Visiting Scholars and Lecturers Committee, and the departments of Art and Art History, and Sociology and Anthropology at Trinity University, and a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
If you have any questions about the exhibit, please contact:

For more information contact:
Jennifer Mathews
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Trinity University
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
One Trinity Place
San Antonio, TX 78212-7200

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