Painted Reflections with Joe Traugott
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.
Breakfast with the Curators is a series of lectures and artists presentations hosted by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture at Weldon’s Museum Hill Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Tickets include a full breakfast and admission to the museum afterwards. Reservations are required. Tickets are $35/person ($30/person for MNMF members). Ticket proceeds directly support the museum’s exhibitions and educational programming funds.