Releases | New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Opens 

December 16th, 2021

Santa Fe, NM The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition, Painted Reflections: Isomeric Design in Ancestral Pueblo Pottery, on February 6, 2022, which runs through March 12, 2023.   

Explore the designs on ancestral and contemporary Pueblo pottery by visiting Painted Reflections: Isomeric Design in Pueblo Pottery. Never before the subject of a museum exhibition, Painted Reflections offers new insights into the study of Pueblo art through an analysis of the visual structure of ceramic design.  The exhibition also demonstrates the ways in which contemporary Indigenous artists are using isomeric design in their work, placing ancestral ceramics in conversation with the innovations of contemporary artists. 

Painted Reflections emphasizes the sophisticated aesthetic qualities of Pueblo art through the study of reversible optical illusions and ambiguous figure-ground relationships. Beginning around 900 AD, Ancestral Pueblo artists began producing new designs on their ceramics—they painted pairs of motifs called isomers, or equal forms. From a conventional perspective, these works appear as painted motifs on unpainted backgrounds. But simultaneously, they also appear as unpainted images on painted backdrops. The exhibition contextualizes isomeric design within larger artistic trends and trajectories, bridging the gaps between art history, anthropology, and archaeology, and includes examples of isomeric designs made by both ancestral and contemporary artists. 

Painted Reflections is co-curated by Joseph Traugott, Ph.D., retired curator at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Antonio R. Chavarria (Santa Clara Pueblo), curator of ethnology at MIAC, and Scott G. Ortman, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado—Boulder. The exhibition is based in-part on Painted Reflections: Isomeric Design in Ancestral Pueblo Pottery, a book written by the co-curators and published by the Museum of New Mexico Press in 2018.   

"The opening of Painted Reflections marks an important moment for MIAC. By presenting ancestral Pueblo pottery to the public in a fresh and nuanced way, the curatorial team is encouraging visitors to rethink what they think they know about Pueblo art,” said Dr. Matthew Martinez, Ph.D., MIAC’s interim executive director.  

 

About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture   

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology is to serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Native Southwest.  

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