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LECTURE: "The Odyssey of Quetzalcoatl: Art and Transnationalism in West Mexico's Late Antiquity" by John M. D. Pohl

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Bowl depicting the head of a death deity, 1400-1500. Mexico, Nayarit, Aztatlan Culture

Bowl depicting the head of a death deity, 1400-1500. Mexico, Nayarit, Aztatlan Culture. Earthenware and pigment. Private Collection

Koret Auditorium

The Friends of Ethnic Art present the 2016 Elizabeth and Lewis K. Land Memorial Lecture by John M. D. Pohl, PhD; Adjunct Professor, Department of Art History, UCLA.

The ceramic arts of ancient West Mexico are renowned for their refined execution and inventive design. The abstract treatment of such subjects as fierce warriors and playful dogs appealed to collectors in the 1960s and remain highly sought after today. At the same time, a significant but lesser known tradition of highly decorative and colorful works also appeared on the art market. 

Originating from the same region, these ceramics are attributed to the later 15th century Aztatlan tradition but exhibit characteristics associated with screenfold codices from southern Mexico. What explains the florescence of such a sophisticated form of art and writing so far from its place of origin? In examining this mystery, John Pohl will discuss the Pre-Columbian system of transnational marriage alliances, trading networks and shared religious practices that linked the peoples of the Pacific Coast from Oaxaca to the American Southwest.

John M. D. Pohl is an authority on the Aztec, Nahua, Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations of southern Mexico. He has directed numerous excavations in North and Central America and has held fellowships with Dumbarton Oaks and the National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, among others. Dr. Pohl has served as a scholar and curator for many major exhibitions of Pre-Columbian art and has authored numerous publications, including The Legend of Lord Eight Deer (2012) and Exploring Mesoamerica: Places in Time (2000). Dr. Pohl is acclaimed for his ability to bring the ancient past to life using a wide variety of innovative skills and techniques rooted in a background that combines art history, archaeology, and media production.

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Free. No museum admission or reservations required.


Presented by the Friends of Ethnic Art.

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