The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) opened a new exhibit dedicated to the incomparable art of indigenous Maya creators. To help preserve and share the community’s traditional artwork, “Maya Spirituality: Indigenous Paintings 1957-2020” is open now through March 15, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Art is an undeniable way of expression. Through these Maya-curated paintings, you’ll see a lot of the indigenous community’s history – both the good and the bad. Joseph Johnston and Rita Moran collected the art from self-taught Tz’utujil and Kaqchikel Maya artists in Guatemala.
The paintings are described to “depict the daily life, traditions, and struggles of the indigenous Maya communities.” This includes showcasing the Maya’s religious and healing commonalities. The exhibit aims to introduce “the rich and complicated spiritual life of the contemporary Maya.”
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the exhibit’s themes involves Guatemala’s civil war during the 1960s. “Poor people were trying to fight for their rights and there was a lot of government oppression going on,” the art center’s senior adviser and show curator Bill R. DeWalt said about the common political themes of the art selection. “The people who were the most targeted were the Maya and other indigenous people. The army would go into villages and wipe them out.”
However, he also details the revival aspects that selected paintings describe.
A place to learn about Maya traditions and art
DeWalt told the aforementioned source that a part of the selection echoes the “reconstruction of Maya life and their renaissance from no longer being oppressed constantly by the military and the government.” The Post-Gazette also points out that some pieces have to do with Maya’s traditional religion of Catholicism.
The LASA’s mission is to “celebrate Latin America through compelling programs dedicated to fostering a heightened understanding and appreciation for Latin American arts, history, and culture.”
Clearly, with this ode to the Maya artists, they continue to do just that!
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