This exhibition showcases the powerful graphic imagery and exceptional creativity of one of the most widely admired artistic traditions of ancient North America.
Featuring over 75 of the finest examples of Mimbres ceramic bowls created in west-central New Mexico from about 1000 to 1130, this exhibition sheds new light on the significance of pottery in the Mimbres culture and explores various interpretations of the works. Often enigmatic, these vessels portray a wide variety of subjects, including complex geometric compositions, local plants and animals, scenes from daily life, and presumed mythological narratives that often strike modern viewers as distinctly surreal.
Interpreting these rich images poses a challenge since there are significant gaps in the historical knowledge of Mimbres society. Worlds Within both acknowledges and embraces this issue, focusing on the challenges and possibilities of more nuanced visual interpretation and considering multiple and at times competing ways of understanding the painted scenes. Through a combination of archaeological research and art historical analysis, this exhibition provides new perspectives on the captivating ceramics produced by the ancient Mimbres people, whose art, lives, and spirituality were intimately connected to the natural world that sustained them.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalogue, Worlds Within: Mimbres Pottery of the Ancient Southwest, is the first in-depth look at Mimbres pottery in more than three decades. This volume showcases both acknowledged masterpieces and remarkable objects that have never before been published, shedding new light on the significance of ceramics in Mimbres culture. Approaching the works from a variety of perspectives and methodologies, beautifully illustrated scholarly essays draw on recent archaeological research and offer fresh interpretations of the bowls’ symbolic themes and the worldview that they express.
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