Unseen Art: Visibility and the Power of Memory in Ancient Mesoamerica


Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships


This project investigates a series of interrelated questions: Why carve the bottoms of monumental sculptures? Why bury art in tombs or caches? Why place paintings and sculpture in dark spaces where they cannot be seen? By considering cases diametrically opposed to the modern paradigm of museum display, this project reconstructs a model of how and why art functioned in Mesoamerican contexts. Combining close observation of works of art with careful reading of archaeological reports, cross-cultural comparisons, and modern ethnographic accounts of the power of images in Latin America, this study focuses attention on making, dedication, performance, and memory as processes central to the vitality of ancient art.