showcases Kuna of Panama
Art of Being Kuna exhibition is now at the Maxwell Museum and
will be on display for two years. Mari Lyn Salvador, chief curator
for the museum, says that the inaugural exhibition of the Alfonso
Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies showcases the type of
collaborative exhibitions and range of educational activities
that visitors can look forward to in coming years.
people live on the Caribbean coast of Panama in an area stretching
from Punta San Blas 130 miles to the Colombian border. Living
mainly on islands where mountains come down to the sea, the
Kuna have struggled for centuries to protect the land and their
coastal seas, not only from exploitation from outside forces,
but from their own overuse. This care is an integral part of
their belief system.
Kuna womens traditional blouses, ethnographic objects,
photographs, video programs and interpretive text are all incorporated
into The Art of Being Kuna. The exhibition presents Kuna ideas
about the environment and their beliefs regarding creation and
the responsibility of caring for the earth. The exhibit also
demonstrates their thoughts about aesthetics and the relationship
of beauty and form to political and social organization, family
structure and hospitality, and ritual and healing as well as
funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, was developed
by the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. From the beginning
it has been a collaborative project that involved Kuna artists,
cultural specialists and leaders working with anthropologists
and members of the staff of the Fowler Museum.
is based on field research done by anthropologists over the
past 30 years, including the work of Salvador.
also draws on the rich collections and research and photographic
archives from the 1920s at the Ethnographic Museum in Goteborg,
Sweden, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., and the Heye
Foundation in New York, which has become part of the National
Museum of the American Indian.
phase, to be unveiled next April, will include healing, ritual
and dance, as well as molas that encompass images from outside
Kuna Yala, inspired by cards, labels and comic books. A variety
of both educational programs and public programs are being designed
to enhance the special nature of this project.