Exhibitions: Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas

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    Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas

    Press Releases ?
    • November 1, 2012: Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas will present one hundred and two masterpieces from the Arts of the Americas permanent collection that exemplify the concept of transformation as part of the religious beliefs and social practices of the region’s indigenous peoples. Themes of life, death, fertility, regeneration, and spiritual transformation will be explored through pre-Columbian and historical artworks—including twenty-one objects that have not been on public view for decades or have never been exhibited. This long-term installation, which will open on January 18, will be on display in the Museum’s recently re-opened galleries on the fifth floor adjacent to American Identities.

      Highlights include the Huastec Life-Death Figure, a carved stone statue that juxtaposes images of life and death and is one of the finest of its kind; the Kwakwaka’wakw Thunderbird Transformation Mask, a carved wood mask in the form of an ancestral being that opens to reveal a second, human face; and two eight-foot-tall, carved nineteenth-century Heiltsuk house posts made to support the huge beams of a great Northwest Coast plank house. Other featured objects include examples from the extensive Hopi and Zuni kachina collection; masks from all over the Americas; Aztec and Maya sculptures; pre-Columbian gold ornaments; and ancient Andean textiles including the two-thousand-year-old Paracas Textile, the most famous piece in the Museum’s Andean collection, which illustrates the way in which early cultures of Peru’s South Coast envisioned their relationship with nature and the supernatural realm.

      Among the objects that have rarely been on public view are a full-body bark-cloth mask made by the Pami’wa of Colombia and Brazil; a Paracas painted textile mask that was most likely associated with a mummy bundle; a Northwest Coast Kwakwaka’wakw Wild Man Mask by John Livingston; a Maya effigy vessel in the form of a hunchback wearing a jaguar skin; a large, elaborately-painted Paracas jar; a Maya warrior figure with removable headdress; two contemporary kachinas by the Hopi carver Henry Shelton; Anasazi and Valdivia clay figurines, the oldest types found in North and South America; Paracas textile fragments from South America; an aquamarine grasshopper pendant from Mexico; ceramic bird whistles from Costa Rica and Panama; Moche stirrup-spout vessels from Peru; and a large, woven Apache basket with spirit figures.

      Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas is organized by Nancy Rosoff, Andrew W. Mellon Curator, Arts of the Americas, Brooklyn Museum; and Susan Kennedy Zeller, Associate Curator, Native American Art, Brooklyn Museum.

      This installation will be accompanied by a series of educational programs to be announced at a later date.

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    • November 1, 2012: La exhibición Vida, Muerte y Transformación en las Américas presentará ciento dos obras de la colección permanente Arte de las Américas que ilustran el concepto de transformación como parte de las creencias religiosas y prácticas sociales de los pueblos indígenas de la región. Se explorarán temas como la vida, la muerte, la fertilidad, la regeneración, y la transformación espiritual a través de obras precolombinas e históricas, entre las que se incluyen veintiuna piezas que no se han exhibido al público en décadas o que no se han exhibido nunca. Esta exposición permanente, que se inaugurará el 18 de enero, se exhibirá cerca de la exposición de Identidades Americanas en las salas del quinto piso, abiertas nuevamente al público.

      Las piezas destacadas incluyen la Figura de Vida y Muerte Huasteca, figura esculpida en piedra que yuxtapone imágenes de la vida y la muerte, y constituye una de las de mejor calidad dentro de su tipo; la Máscara de Transformación del Pájaro-Trueno de los Kwakwaka’wakw, máscara tallada en madera que remite a un ser ancestral que se abre para revelar una forma humana en su interior; y dos Pilares de Casa tallados del siglo diecinueve, de casi dos metros y medio de altura, que los Heiltsuk usaron para sostener las enormes vigas de una gran casa de la costa noroeste, hecha con planchas de madera. Otras de las piezas presentadas incluyen ejemplares de la extensa colección de muñecas kachinas Hopi y Zuni; máscaras de todas partes de América; esculturas Aztecas y Mayas; objetos ornamentales precolombinos de oro; y tejidos andinos milenarios, como el Tejido de Paracas de dos mil años de antigüedad, la pieza más famosa de la colección andina del museo, que ilustra la manera en que las culturas indígenas de la costa sur del Perú concebían su relación con la naturaleza y lo sobrenatural.

      Entre los objetos que rara vez se han exhibido al público se encuentran una máscara de cuerpo entero hecha con corteza por los Pami’wa de Colombia y Brasil; una máscara de tejido pintado de Paracas que probablemente estaba asociada con un fardo funerario; una Máscara de hombre salvaje de los Kwakwaka’wakw de la costa noroeste, realizada por John Livingston; una vasija efigie Maya que presenta una figura humana jorobada vestida con la piel de un jaguar; una vasija Paracas pintada de manera muy elaborada; una figura de un guerrero Maya con tocado removible; dos kachinas contemporáneas Hopi del escultor Henry Shelton; figuillas de barro de los Anasazi y de la cultura Valdivia (los ejemplares más antiguos encontrados en América del Norte y del Sur); fragmentos de tejidos de Paracas y Nasca de Sudamérica; un pendiente Mexica (Azteca) tallado en aguamarina en forma de saltamontes; silbatos de cerámica en forma de pájaro provenientes de Costa Rica y Panamá; vasijas de asa estribo de los Moche del Perú; y una gran cesta de almacenaje Apache tejida con figuras míticas.

      La exposición Vida, Muerte y Transformación en las Américas está organizada por Nancy Rosoff, Curadora Andrew W. Mellon, Arte de las Américas, y Susan Kennedy Zeller, Curadora Asociada, Arte Nativo Americano, ambas del Museo de Brooklyn.

      Esta instalación estará acompañada por una serie de programas educativos que se anunciarán próximamente.

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