Inside the Peabody Museum: May 2011

New Exhibition Opening and Reception on Wednesday, May 4

"Resting Cowboys" by Allan Houser

Native Life in the Americas: Artists' Views showcases the work of important though not well-known artists who focused on various aspects of Native American life and culture.

The exhibition will open Wednesday, May 4 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. The reception is free and open to the public.

The work of such painters as Karl Bodmer (1809-1893), George Catlin (1796-1872), and Frederic Remington (1861-1909) are familiar to many people throughout the world who are interested in American Indians and in artists’ interpretations of Native life and culture. All were prolific, and their works now reside in many of the world’s major art museums. They continue to be the subject of books and exhibitions, with their art is reproduced in a variety of media including catalogs, posters, and even refrigerator magnets.

But many lesser known artists who portrayed Native American life and culture also deserve attention. This exhibition highlights some of their work by displaying selected prints and books from the Tozzer Library collection, looking beyond the familiar 19th century white male painters to include women artists, Native artists, and even one living artist.The exhibition also includes artists who were primarily illustrators, designers, and printmakers rather than painters.

The geographic focus of the exhibition is North America, though Mexico, Central America, and the Andes are also represented. The time periods in which these artists worked range from the mid-1930’s through the first decade of the 21st century. Some, both Native and white, had been encouraged and supported by the Works Project Administration and similar programs during the Depression. Others’ artistic output supported them comfortably. Some were scholars as well as artists. Many worked in multiple media. Some were most productive in their adopted communities while others spent their lives comfortably close to home with their art reflecting that intimacy.

Curated by Janet Steins.

Please note Tozzer Library Gallery has limited hours during the summer and school vacations. Click here for current Tozzer Library Gallery hours. The public is also invited to visit Tozzer Library.

Miki Kratsman is the 2011 Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography

photo by Miki Kratsman

“I shot with a lens used in Israeli Defense Forces unmanned aerial vehicles. The image I capture is, I imagine, very similar to the one seen by the Israeli soldier..."

– Miki Kratsman, 2011 Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography

Miki Kratsman is a prize-winning Argentinean-born photographer who has lived in Israel since 1971. His work has appeared in the Venice Art Biennale, and in solo exhibitions from Tel Aviv to Seoul, Madrid, and New York. Kratsman will create a project called Palestinian Semblance (working title) for his Fellowship.

Since 1986, Kratsman has covered the occupied territories as a photographer for several newspapers, mostly for the Schoken Group, publishers of Ha'aretz newspaper. Over the years, he has photographed Palestinians at demonstrations, daily activities, celebrations, funerals, for profile story portraits, and more.

During his Fellowship, Kratsman will create a portfolio of photographs that explore how Palestinians appear to the eye of the beholder, whether that person is a passerby, a newspaper reader, or an Israeli soldier. In one group, Kratsman will present Palestinians as targets, shot with a lens used by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) unmanned aerial vehicles. In another group, Kratsman will isolate images of those identified as shahids or martyrs as portrayed on neighborhood posters or placards. A third group takes inspiration from Francois Aubert's photograph of the shirt of Maximilian, ruler of Mexico, just after his execution in 1867; each of these will feature the last piece of clothing worn by a Palestinian before he was killed. The final group builds on Kratsman’s discovery that many of the Palestinians he’s photographed over the decades have been killed; in a field study, he will ask Palestinians to mark his photos to indicate who is “wanted,” a victim, or a shahid, and these marked photos will complete the portfolio.

“Kratsman’s photographs are unique,” says visual culture writer Ariella Azoulay. His “decisions are torn between the professional duty to photograph in any circumstance and the civil duty to not let his gaze obediently follow the agendas of media and political discourse. He always reminds the spectator that the occupation of Palestinian Territories is the background story for all events taking place there.”

Prof. William L. Fash, William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum, noted, "The recent tragedies in Libya have reminded the world at large of the risk as well as the courage that is involved in photo journalism in contested territories. Argentinian-Israeli photographer Miki Kratsman is no stranger to these, and the Peabody Museum is pleased to support him in this daring and original exploration of ‘the human condition' in one of the most complicated landscapes on Earth."

Previous Gardner Fellows have included South African photographer Guy Tillim and Indian photographer Dayanita Singh. Her exhibition, House of Love: Photographic Fiction, Dayanita Singh, is on view through September 5, 2011.

Ancient Stories Depicted on Maya Murals Come to Life in New Family Program

 detail of Bonampak mural reproduction by Heather Hurst

Ancient Maya musicians play maracas, a drum, and a turtle shell at a royal gathering. Detail from Bonampak mural reproduction by Heather Hurst.

The colorful ancient Maya mural shows a royal gathering, with nobles, musicians, clowns, and bags of cacao (a key ingredient in chocolate). They are all depicted in the Bonampak (Mexico) murals, part of the ongoing exhibition Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas.

“We’ll bring this Maya mural to life,” promises Andy Majewski, Education Specialist. He and Education Manager Sheila Sibley are putting the final touches on a new family program “Wall Art Stories.” It takes place May 21st, as part of the Museum’s Third Saturdays program.

In the gallery, children will be invited to dress like the Maya, make music using instruments similar to those the Maya played, and learn about the ancient Maya world as shown in these famous murals. Families will discover how the Maya readied their walls for art and created their vibrant palette of colors. All participants will experience the art of mural making by creating their own wall art to take home.

Advance registration is required. 


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Did you miss these lectures? Listen to the audio.

Excavating the Great Aztec Temple:Achievements and Perspectives: Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, General Coordinator, Great Aztec Temple Project  (in Spanish, with English translation)

A Brief History of the Spectre of the Internet and the Death of Writing: Matthew Battles, author, Library: An Unquiet History

The Preservation and Importance of Inscriptions: 21st-Century Challenges:Barbara Fash, Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions

May 4

5-7 pm

Exhibition Opening and Reception

Native Life in the Americas: Artists' Views

May 21

Noon-4 pm

Family Program

Family Fun Saturday Wall Art Stories

Advance registration required; $5 per child plus Museum admission.