Cosmic ReckoningsSeptember 17th – November 14th, 2020
Cosmic Reckonings Exhibit BrochurePlease download an in-depth PDF of the Cosmic Reckonings exhibit. Complete with the artists’ works, and stock numbers when referencing for purchase.
What do stargazers, acrobats, and flying shamans have in common? A list to which we might also add ballplayers? At some level they all assumed cosmic significance among the Pre-Columbian peoples of Mesoamerica who imagined and fashioned them into works of art. Beginning with the early Olmec, art functioned as the symbolic means by which Formative period cultures represented their ritual and spiritual connections with the natural and supernatural worlds. Much of this ritual activity focused on subsistence, in which maize emerged as the key player, with rulers and shamans acting as mediators with ancestors and supernatural forces. These figure types all seem to have originated with the Olmec in the Pre-Classic–the period from which most of the works in the show derive–but with the possible exception of stargazers all of them seem to have persisted into the Classic and probably Post-Classic periods. Though we may never understand their full ritual contexts, the figure types in the exhibition provide valuable insight into both the systems of thought among Pre-Columbian cultures in Mesoamerica and a partial roadmap to their evolution. This exhibition is very much driven by the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which shuddered New York for months. As the City slowly returns to life, it seems poignant to offer an exhibit of compelling Pre-Columbian objects that remind us all of the long human history of confronting calamities, of getting right with the world and the forces that control it. In ancient times there were surely diseases, droughts, floods, earthquakes, volcanos, famines, and warfare. Indeed, the great Maya and Teotihuacan civilizations collapsed from one or more such calamities. But human life continues. In some small way the pieces in the exhibition are intended to provide hope and inspiration. A personal way of finding and steering a course. A Cosmic Reckoning.