Porras-Kim Explores the Practices and Ethics of Museum Collections in Upcoming Pepper Lecture

Installation view of Gala Porras-Kim: Between Lapses of Histories. February 11–September 17, 2023, at Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City.

Claremont, Calif. — Dec. 1, 2023 — Chichén Itzá is a sacred site and one of the greatest centers of Mayan culture on the Yucatán peninsula. Its monuments and artistic works reveal a powerful cosmic vision of the world and universe.

These monuments are considered so important to our understanding of the Classic and post-Classic Maya that archeologists have made numerous efforts—often dubious—to have them removed and placed in museum collections around the world.

Bogotá-born conceptual artist Gala Porras-Kim visits Pitzer this month to discuss her work in relation to this important site, museum ethics, and collecting practices as this year’s Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artist and Scholar.

Porras-Kim will deliver her Pepper lecture, titled “The Weight of a Patina of Time,” December 5 at 4:15 p.m. in Benson Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Gala Porras-Kim (photo credit: Audrey Min)

Porras-Kim’s lecture is jointly produced by Pitzer College Art Galleries and the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry (MCSI) and also serves as the culminating lecture of the fall MCSI lecture series “Apologies, Reparations, and Restitution.”

According to a recent Los Angeles Times profile, one of Porras-Kim’s key interests in her work is to probe “the ethics and practical concerns of how institutions acquire, conserve and display cultural artifacts.”

That is particularly relevant to the situation in Chichén Itzá, which had many pieces removed in the early 20th century by antiquarian Edward Thompson and other archeologists. Thompson used destructive methods to dredge items from a sacred well at the site and then had them smuggled out of the country.

Porras-Kim’s work often takes the form of drawings of ancient objects in states of disrepair, relocated from the site of excavation to museum exhibition halls and storage facilities.

Her Pepper lecture precedes a highly anticipated exhibition next spring of her work at Pitzer College Art Galleries. That exhibition will present an evolving body of work by the artist that is based on artifacts extracted from Chichén Itzá.

The annual Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture is made possible by the Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists and Scholars Endowed Fund at Pitzer College. Established in 2007, the fund helps bring critically acclaimed artists and scholars to campus to hold seminars, workshops, public talks, and one-on-one conversations with students. The fund is named after Trustee Emeritus Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper, long-term supporters of the College and the grandparents of David Pepper ’17 and Morgan Pepper ’12.

  • Visit here for more information about Porras-Kim’s upcoming lecture

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

The Pitzer College Art Galleries’ mandate is Education and Advocacy through the Pitzer College core values—social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. By following these precepts, Pitzer College Art Galleries engage and interrogate contemporary and historical issues of importance to expand our audiences’ understanding and contribution to our artistic, intellectual, and social culture. Through curatorial creativity and innovative programming, the Galleries seek to provide context, support, and a critical framework for artists and curators working today and, by doing so, inspire meaningful dialogue that fascinates, excites, and invigorates.

For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu/galleries or email [email protected].

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