Exhibition Information

Future of the Past
October 19-December 1, 2016

Future of the Past: Revitalizing Ancient Maya Ceramic Traditions in a Modern Maya Community features thirty-five contemporary pottery pieces by the San Antonio Women’s Cooperative (SAWC) in Belize, twenty ancient Maya objects on loan from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, and several other related tools and materials. 

Jeremiah Donovan, Professor of Ceramics in the Art and Art History Department at SUNY Cortland, has been traveling with students for four years to Belize to observe the ongoing excavation by Belizean Archaeologist Dr. Jaime Awe of ancient pottery at Cahal Pech and nearby caves. Dr. Awe’s work has elucidated the techniques and materials used by ancient ceramists in the region. In collaboration with Dr. Awe, Professor Donovan was able to develop modern processes that reinterpret ancient Maya polychrome pottery production and introduce them to the SAWC. Incorporating these new techniques into their own practice has led to increased productivity by the members of the Cooperative, benefitting them economically while enabling them to connect with their Maya heritage at the same time.  

Kelly McKenna ‘17, SUNY Cortland student and summer research fellow, carried out additional research this past summer on how ancient Mayans used “Maya blue,” a unique azure pigment, in their pottery making. The results of her work will be displayed in the exhibition alongside a Jaina Island male effigy whistle from Central America that features “Maya blue” and is dated 600-900 ACE (courtesy of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.) McKenna will help convey what she learned to the SAWC during a trip organized by Professor Donovan to Belize in January, 2017.

Several members of the SAWC will travel to upstate New York during the show for an open studio session and other educational programs.  A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

The Dowd Gallery is grateful to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art for generously loaning objects for this exhibition and to the National Endowment for the Arts for the funding that helped make it possible. Additional support provided by:

Auxiliary Services Corporation Grant
Campus Artist and Lecture Series Grant
Clark Center for International Education 
Haines Fund
International Programs Office 
Research and Sponsored Programs
Rozanne Brooks Museum 
U.S. Embassy Belize and Ambassador Carlos Moreno and Christine Moreno

VIDEO: November 9, 2016, 5 p.m.: Panel Discussion, “Revitalizing Maya Traditions: Object, Place, Time,” Jeremiah Donovan, Art and Art History Department; John Henderson, Cornell University Anthropology Department; Sebastian Purcell, Philosophy Department, Brockway Hall, Jacobus Lounge

Office Information

Dowd Fine Arts Center, Room 106,
48 Graham Avenue and Prospect Terrace Cortland, NY 13045

Phone: 607-753-4216
Fax: 607-753-5934
Jaroslava Prihodova, Director

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Thr: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

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