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The Body Adorned: Artistry and Legacy of the Ancient Americas
December 4, 2021–February 27, 2022
D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts » First Floor » Starr Gallery of Watercolors » Alpert Gallery of Currier & Ives
New opening date! Bilingual Exhibit
Feather textiles, gold pendants, and greenstone ear rods are among the most exquisite adornments crafted by artists working in the ancient Americas. Designed to be worn both in life and in death, these treasures functioned as status symbols, ritual paraphernalia, and sacred channels to a more sublime realm. Often small in scale and intricately crafted, the adornments featured in this exhibition were created in sophisticated workshops by highly skilled artists. These splendid works of art offer insight into the values, beliefs, and achievements of indigenous peoples.
This exhibition explores the artistic adornment of the ancient American cultures of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Mexico, as well as the influence that metalwork, textiles, and ceramics had on future generations of artists. In addition to including work made between 400 and 1550 CE, the display includes works by 20th century American designer and jewelry maker William Spratling (1900-1967), who spent over three decades in Mexico and was inspired by Mesoamerican art and architecture. The exhibition celebrates the enduring power of these brilliant motifs, and bring together different eras in dialogue.
Drinking vessel, Maya, Late Classic Period, A.D. 650-850
Jaguar Brooch (Prendedor en forma de jaguar), Mexican, 1940-1946
Four-cornered hat, Wari, Middle Horizon period A.D. 700-900
Male effigy cache figure, Muisca, A.D. 1100-1550
Jaguar effigy pendant, Diquís, 700-1520
This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as part of the Art Bridges Initiative.