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Exhibition Catologue introduction

by Sharon Church

"In Fall, 2006, The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened its blockbuster show, Tesoros/Treasures/Tesouros: The Arts in Latin America, 1492-1820. The works in that exhibition were created in the aftermath of the colonization of Mexico and Latin America by Spain and Portugal, when two radically different worlds collided. The swift fall of the Aztec Empire and the rapid conversion of the remaining native culture to Catholicism that followed colonization were all reflected in works which embodied the unique culture that emerged from that period of conflict. 


The show presented a singular opportunity that Miguel Angel Corzo, President of Arts, seized upon. He assembled a collection of 20 Colonial Mexican artifacts and presented them to the Craft Department. What might UArts Crafts students create if they were given Colonial Mexican artifacts to use in their own work? How would they, as contemporary artists, respond to objects made several hundred years ago? How would they interpret and employ these objects, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the Tesoros exhibition? How would their work bridge the gap between two cultures - Colonial Latin American and contemporary American society?


This was an exceptional educational challenge for our students: to reach beyond the University to the Museum and to a centuries old culture through their own creative work. "

"Mexican tradition celebrated the lives of the departed; Victorian mores dictate a conservative, if not dour, remembrance. My inspiration for this piece comes from an interest in exploring the relationship between the two. 


The artifact given to me of a deceased child’s face rests in an alcove of my ceramic vessel’s belly. The interior space of the form is meant to contain this child’s remains, while the exterior encapsulated artifacts from the child’s life meant to help people remember this loved one’s stunted existence. The Victorian aesthetic of the vessel is meant to keep the piece’s language formal as it communicated a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable subject matter for most. The bizarre juxtaposition of the Mexican and Victorian cultures gives the piece its unique stature and power. "

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