America's Ancient Past: Art of the Mounds and Canyon People

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Sikyatki Bowl, 1450-1500 A.D. Northeastern Arizona. The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art.
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Human Head Effigy Vessel, A.D. 1300-1500. Parkin Site, Arkansas. The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art.

In the Southwest United States, pottery-making began about two thousand years ago and became a powerful form of expression. Women created a wide range of hand-coiled vessels including serving dishes and storage vessels for water, food, and seeds. Pottery was painted with imagery inspired by the everyday world and the cosmos. Southwest pottery making has remained vibrant to the present day.

In the Southeast United States, many women who created domestic and ceremonial ceramics were guided by Mississippian myths about the origins of the world and of humans. Ceramic vessels were painstakingly hand-coiled. Engraved, incised, and modeled imagery on the pottery often related to spiritual symbolism that communicated shared beliefs and philosophy.

This exhibition was curated by Sherry Brydon. In addition to items from the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, items are on loan from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University; Richard Niehoff; Frank Kohlbert; Jonathan Holstein and Philip Holstein.