Cerámica de la Tierra, presented by the American Museum of Ceramic Art from February 14th - May 9th, 2009, examines Mesoamerican ceramics coupled with a glimpse of contemporary ceramic expressions rooted in pre-Columbian traditions. The development of ceramic traditions began in the Pre-classic period (2000 BCE to 200 CE). This exhibition will unveil a large, rarely-seen, private collection of pre-Columbian works, replete with examples of ceramic tomb sculptures, wind instruments, and vessels from the Mayan area, Veracruz, Teotihuacán, ancient western Mexico civilizations - Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit, and northern Peru. To place these cultures in their anthropological and historical context, key facts and information will accompany the displayed items.
For approximately 4,000 years, various ancient societies existed in semi-isolation within the southern hemisphere of the American continent. Though some of what is known of these ancient societies is based on theory and speculation, the exhibition will draw attention to the common denominators and shared features that played across the region, including the ball game, presently known as Ulama, human sacrifice, rituals, astrological views, and religious and social systems. Of particular interest is the transformative nature or duality of the works, exemplified by mirrored or reflective images, and figures that morph from one form to another. Attention will also be given to the function of vessels, to the subject matter of sculptures, to the clay construction and firing techniques, and to the aesthetic qualities of the works.
As a way to measure Mesoamerican influences in contemporary art, works created by two California Mexican American artists, Luis Bermudez and Francisco "Pancho" Jiménez, both working in the ceramic medium, will be juxtaposed against the pre-Columbian work from Mexico and Peru. Given AMOCA's broad interest in ceramics from all over the world and from all time periods, programs such as "Cerámica de la Tierra" are fundamental to our museum's mandate to encourage comparison, evaluation, and appreciation of the diversity of human creativity.
Exhibition amplification is accomplished through wall text, a continuously-running video presentation, and two hands-on family workshops. The exhibition opening will be marked by a Fiesta Hispánica, complete with a meet-the-artist opportunity.