Announcing the 2018–2019 PCSNY Lecture Series

It is our great pleasure to share with you the schedule for the 2018–2019 Pre-Columbian Society of New York Lecture Series:

Sep. 12, 2018Lisa Trever, Lisa and Bernard Selz Associate Professor in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, Columbia University

Oct. 30, 2018Rex Koontz, Professor of Art History, University of Houston

Dec. 6, 2018Jennifer Loughmiller-Cardinal, PhD Candidate in Chemistry, University at Albany–SUNY

Mar. 14, 2019Robert M. Rosenswig, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University at Albany–SUNY

Apr. 4, 2019Thomas B.F. Cummins, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art, Harvard University

May 10, 2019Richard Diehl, Professor Emeritus, University of Alabama

With their publications and research efforts spanning the arts and culture of ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes, these six scholars offer a formidable and enduring contribution to the study of the pre-Columbian world. The members of the PCSNY Board hope you are as excited as we are to host such a varied slate of guest speakers this year. Please join us for what promises to be one of our best seasons yet!

NOTE: All lectures take place at the Institute of Fine Arts–NYU, 1 East 78th Street, New York City

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Exhibition: Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu (Brooklyn Museum, through November 25, 2018)

Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu
May 18–November 25, 2018
Great Hall, 1st Floor

For millennia, ancient peoples of the Andes created quipus—complex record-keeping devices, made of knotted cords, that served as an essential medium for reading and writing, registering and remembering. New York–based Chilean artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña has devoted a significant part of her artistic practice to studying, interpreting, and reactivating the quipus, which were banned by the Spanish during their colonization of South America. Drawing on her indigenous heritage, Vicuña channels this ancient, sensorial mode of communication into immersive installations and participatory performances.

Disappeared Quipu pairs ancient quipus from our collection with a newly commissioned installation by Vicuña that combines monumental strands of knotted wool with a four-channel video projection. Together, these quipus of the past and present explore the nature of language and memory, the resilience of native people in the face of colonial repression, and Vicuña’s own experiences living in exile from her native Chile. Each knot of Vicuña’s modern-day quipus gives radical possibility to the connective and expressive capacities of a language nearly lost to history.

On view in the adjacent gallery are thirteen ancient Andean textiles selected by Vicuña from our collection. Featured in the artist’s video projection, these textiles span a period of fourteen hundred years and complement Vicuña’s installation by honoring an important indigenous artistic tradition.

Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Brooklyn presentation is initiated by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and Nancy Rosoff, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator, Arts of the Americas, with Serda Yalkin, Curatorial Assistant, Arts of the Americas and Europe. The MFA presentation is organized by Liz Munsell, Lorraine and Alan Bressler Curator of Contemporary Art, and Dennis Carr, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture. Gary Urton, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre‐Columbian Studies at Harvard University, is a collaborative consultant to the project. Robert Kolodny and Ricardo Gallo respectively, created the video projection and sound design of the work.

Leadership support is provided by Elizabeth A. Sackler. Generous support is provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation.

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Golden Kingdoms tour with Joanne Pillsbury

Ear Ornament, Winged Runner. Moche (CE 400–700), North Coast, Perú. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 66.196.40.

PCSNY Members-Only Tour of
Golden Kingdoms:
Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas

Featuring Dr. Joanne Pillsbury
Andrall E. Pearson Curator of Ancient American Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Friday, May 18, 2018

Invitations for this exclusive event will be sent to current PCSNY members.
Please join or renew your membership today.

For more information, please contact info@pcsny.org OR wyllie@aya.yale.edu.

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PCSNY April Lecture

Images in a World without Words:
Questioning the Canon in Moche Studies

Sarahh Scher
Visiting Lecturer

Salem State University


 

As the scholarship on Moche art expands, it is becoming clear that only a small group of artworks is most often used to interpret Moche culture. These works were selected for the most part prior to the proliferation of scientific excavation, due to their rich imagery, which holds out the promise of usefulness in interpreting a culture that does not have written records. However, there is no real basis for their assumed place as authoritative objects that speak for Moche ideology, especially as Moche political diversity becomes more apparent. The repeated publication of these works in scholarly analysis is having the effect of creating a false sense of ubiquity for some elements of Moche iconography. The result of this is that a small set of works is rapidly growing into a narrow canon that does not reflect the full diversity of Moche artistic expression and iconography, while eliding many forms of difference. A case study of the Sacrifice Ceremony is used to illustrate the problems of this situation.

Thursday, April 12, 2018
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
RSVP Institute of Fine Arts

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room

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PCSNY March Lecture (POSTPONED)

POSTPONED: The Pre-Columbian Society of New York regrets to inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances our March lecture scheduled for Thursday, March 8th, has been postponed. The announcement of an alternative date will follow. Thank you for your understanding.

Entangled Tesserae: Looking at Classic Maya Political Society
Simon Martin
University of Pennsylvania Museum

For almost five decades Mayanists have sought an answer to one of the most important but elusive of questions in the field: how were the great cities of the Classic Maya organized politically? Although many of the disagreements have now been put to rest, every advance in our understanding has only brought us fresh challenges, as we seek to know not just the where, when, and who, but the how and why. Thus, progress is to be measured not in the accumulation of historical particulars, but in how well we can use that data to divine the principles of a political philosophy.

POSTPONED
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts–NYU

1 East 78th Street, New York City

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
RSVP Institute of Fine Arts

Lecture will be followed by a reception in the Loeb Room

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PCSNY February Lecture

From the Heart of the Andes:
On the Making of Golden Kingdoms

Joanne Pillsbury
Andrall E. Pearson Curator of Ancient American Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Octopus Frontlet. Gold, chrysocolla, shell. Moche, A.D. 300–600. Peru, La Mina.
Museo de la Nación, Lima, Ministerio de Cultura del Perú (MN-14602)

This talk provides a behind-the-scenes view of the exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas (opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 28th, 2018), and the international research project that inspired it. Drawing upon significant recent archaeological findings and new investigations into the roles of artists, their patrons, and their workshops, the exhibition focuses on luxury arts in the lands between the two great imperial capitals of the ancient Americas: Cusco, the seat of the Inca state, and Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. Co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the final selection of works includes over three hundred objects gathered from fifty-seven museums in thirteen nations, including many that have been excavated in recent years, and others that have rarely, if ever, left their countries of origin.

The exhibition follows a specific historical and geographical path, tracing the development of gold-working in the Americas from around 1000 BC in the Andes of South America, to its expansion northward into Central America, and finally to Mexico, where gold-working only comes into its full flower after 1000 AD. Although the spread northward of gold working provides the exhibition with its trajectory and narrative, this golden road passed through regions where gold was of little interest to the indigenous populations. Such variations bring to the fore the most challenging and broad-ranging research question driving this project: How can we discern and interpret indigenous ideas of value? Golden Kingdoms seeks to understand which materials were considered most precious to the Moche, the Incas, the Maya, the Aztecs, and other ancient American cultures, and how and why certain materials were selected and transformed into some of the ancient world’s most spectacular works of art.

Thursday, February 15, 2018
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
RSVP Institute of Fine Arts

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room

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PCSNY December Lecture

The Archipelago and the Arc of Time:
Continuities across 2,000 Years of Pre-Columbian Caribbean Art

Lawrence Waldron
Assistant Adjunct Professor

City University of New York

As archaeological information about the ancient Antilles has become increasingly fine-grained, Caribbean pre-Columbianists have begun moving away from the grand culture histories and stylistic classifications of the region that were first proposed by early twentieth-century archaeologists such as Irving Rouse and José María Cruxent. Among North American pre-Columbianists, only the last five hundred years of Caribbean pre-Conquest art—that of the people known as Taíno—is even vaguely familiar. However, the Taíno were but the final manifestation of a millennia-long arc of Arawakan culture and art in the Antilles. And while the first Arawakan settlers to reach these islands were of a socially and artistically distinct type from the Taíno, the retention of key motifs, classes of art objects unique to the Caribbean, and mythic elements, too, link the very first Arawakan Antilleans to the ones that greeted Columbus 2,000 years later. While noting important artistic and cultural differences, this presentation discusses the major continuities between the pioneering Saladoid-era Arawakans (circa 500 BCE–CE 600), their Taíno descendants, and the cultural forces that might have effected this long memory among the ancient Antilleans.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
[Registration for this event has closed.]

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room

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PCSNY November Lecture

Touch and Tactility in Ancient Maya Art

Megan O’Neil
Associate Curator of Art of the Ancient Americas
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

This talk examines how the sense of touch is invoked or stimulated in ancient Maya art and writing and in the experience of things. The approach is multifaceted, looking to the pictorial, epigraphic, and archaeological records. To this end, the talk studies images of people holding or touching things, explores the emphasis in Maya writing on hands in words for action, and examines material evidence of touch in the archaeological record. Also considered is how the forms of objects and compositions of images and texts encourage users to manipulate objects, favoring somatic engagement with them. Studying touch in relation to other senses allows us to explore more fully the dimensions of the physical experience of things and probe how haptic experience of images, objects, and buildings undoubtedly was crucial to aesthetic perception and for conveying meaning.

Thursday, November 9, 2017
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
[Registration for this event has closed.]

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room

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PCSNY October Lecture

Cosmic Order and Inka Rule

Terence N. D’Altroy
Loubat Professor of American Archaeology and Director of the Center for Archaeology

Columbia University

Many discussions of Inka rule focus on the domination of millions of people, by imposing military control, establishing sustainable governance, and building a vast support infrastructure. Equally important, however, were the efforts the Inkas made to impose their own notions of cosmic and social order on the world at large. This talk explores how the Inkas thought the world worked and how to be successful within it, as they tried to make themselves the indispensable intermediary between humanity and all other powers. Among the key ideas that contributed to practical rule were their notions of life and death (e.g., living ancestral mummies), flexible relations with time and the past, and a landscape in which they shared social space with living mountains and rocks. Those ideas help us to understand how the Inkas managed to rule in a land without writing or a multi-year calendar. Among the sites explored are the major temples, carved stones, and the world’s highest archaeological sites, the mountain peak shrines containing sacrificed children.

Thursday, October 26, 2017
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
[Registration for this event has closed.]

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room

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PCSNY September Lecture

Migration or Imitation?
The Anomalous Appearance of Maya-Style Murals at the Central Mexican Site of Cacaxtla

Andrew D. Turner
Postdoctoral Associate in Art of the Ancient Americas, Yale University Art Gallery

Since their discovery in the mid 1970s, the Maya-style murals of Cacaxtla, Tlaxcala (AD 600–900) have challenged notions of Mesoamerican cultures as regionally bounded and immobile. Located some 450 miles (700 km) from the nearest Maya site, the murals have been considered by some to be the result of migration or invasion by a poorly understood group from the southern Gulf Coast referred to as the Olmeca-Xicalanca, and by others to be a local attempt to claim ties to distant powers. This presentation considers the Maya-style traits that appear within Cacaxtla’s murals and elsewhere in the site’s monumental art programs and argues that Cacaxtla’s art reflects a deep and sustained engagement with specific Late Classic sites of the Maya Lowlands. Through analysis of style and iconography at Cacaxtla, it is possible to gain a better understanding of the nature of interaction between powerful cities of the Maya region and Central Mexico during the Late Classic period.

Thursday, September 14, 2017
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
[Registration for this event has closed.]

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room

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