Exhibitions

REFUTING “NOBLE SAVAGES”: REFLECTIONS OF NATURE IN ANCIENT MESOAMERICAN ARTIFACTS

Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery / 1220 21st Avenue S. May 9 - September 13th

The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to present a collection of ancient Latin American artifacts curated by undergraduate students as part of a semester-long course led by Dr. Markus Eberl, associate professor of anthropology. The exhibition focuses on the connection between nature and culture among Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people (ca. 500 to 1500 C.E.). The mostly small artifacts on view elucidate their daily life and beliefs.

This exhibition challenges the term “noble savages,” a reference to Western portrayals of ancient Mesoamerican peoples in a subdued and romanticized form. In reusing this out-of-date term, the student-curators aim to draw attention to its racially-charged connotation, while presenting an opposing view that focuses on the diversity of everyday practices in Mesoamerica. City dwellers and farmers, mothers and children, ballplayers and creators are all showcased here. Their lives were grounded in sophisticated religious beliefs and exquisite knowledge of their environment. With the inclusion of interactive elements, including 3D artifact-replicas that invite hands-on discovery, we hope that you will join us in a multi-sensory exploration of ancient Mesoamerica.