Variable Atmospheres: Experiencing the Copán Valley Stelae


ACLS Fellowship Program


History of Art

Named Award

ACLS H. and T. King Fellow in Ancient American Art and Culture named award


“Variable Atmospheres” centers the Copán Valley stelae, 652 CE, a unique sculptural suite positioned along mountain ridges encompassing the ancient Maya city of Copán in western Honduras. The project argues, through object-oriented and place-based research, that the Maya mobilized features of the environment to amplify and transform the meaning of monumental stone sculptures. In tracing the production, use, reception, and afterlife of the Copán Valley stelae, this work reveals how the materiality of stone engaged various actors, from human viewers to atmospheric phenomena changing over time. Participating in conversations across art history, anthropology, and the environmental humanities, “Variable Atmospheres” focuses on the relationship between monuments, makers, viewers, and land.