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.
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