Colima Mexico. Dog, ca. 200 BCE – 200 CE. Ceramic, 10 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 16 in. Gift of The Ted Weiner Family 2022.134

From Earth to Sky: Ancient Art of the Americas

May 11, 2024 - August 25, 2024

Hodge Gallery Temporary Exhibition Gallery

No written record was left by indigenous peoples living in west Mexico 2,000 years ago, but the clay objects in this exhibition offer clues about how they viewed themselves and their environment. Ceramic sculptures depict men and women in various roles and activities, spanning ages from infancy to old age. Ancestors and rulers are shown to legitimize and memorialize important families. Daily life, whether ceremonial or informal, is suggested with figures who are eating, drinking, playing music and ballgames. Familial and societal bonds are represented through mother-and-child, man-and woman, and warrior figures. Facial gestures, bodily postures, and bodily ornament all suggest unique or group identities.

Spiritual beliefs are reflected in the predominance of shaman figures, symbolic objects, and, most importantly, the fact that these ceramics were buried with the deceased. Like other ancient cultures, these peoples held a strong belief in the afterlife. They buried not only objects conveying social status, but also items to use in the afterlife like clay vessels, shells, and clothing. In west Mexico during this period, burials for honored dead or beloved ancestors took the form of a vertical shaft leading down to a horizontal chamber, which was often underneath the home. Possibly burial chambers were reentered to pay homage to the dead with annual gifts of food and drink, a precursor for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) annual celebration.

From the Exhibition

  • Jalisco Mexico. Kneeling Woman, ca. 200 BCE - 200 CE, Ceramic. 15 x 10 x 7 in. Gift of The Ted Weiner Family 2022.80

  • Jalisco Mexico. Warrior, ca. 200 BCE - 200 CE. Ceramic, 9 x 6 x 6 1/2 in. Gift of The Ted Weiner Family 2022.13

  • Nayarit Mexico, Ancestor Pair, ca. 200 BCE - 200 CE. Ceramic, each: 16 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 4 in. Gift of The Ted Weiner Family 2022.64