Seasons of Ceremonies: Rites and Rituals in Guatemala and Mexico

Peyton Wright Gallery is pleased to announce a book signing, exhibition on November 19, 2021, from 3-7 PM to celebrate the launch of William Frej’s new book, Seasons of Ceremonies: Rites and Rituals in Guatemala and Mexico, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. In addition to the book launch, Peyton Wright Gallery will host an exhibition of 23 compelling black and white photographic images from his new book. Mr. Frej will also give a talk on his work on Saturday, November 20 from 1-3pm. The exhibition concludes January 10, 2022

     In Mesoamerican villages and towns, a calendar of rites and rituals takes place throughout the year. As documented by the photos in this book, there are beliefs and world views underlying these complex and profound activities, which are done as an essential way of creating connections to the natural forces of the universe. Ritual actors and natural objects are not just symbolic representations, they embody a force of life. Ceremonies such as the ones illustrated in Frej’s book, not only unite communities, and celebrate the seasons of the year, but they also help to ensure harmony and health now and for future generations. These are elaborate, multilayered affairs involving entire communities. At the most visible, public level, it is the traditional clothing, the dances, and the elaborate processions that grab your attention. But below the surface, these are carefully staged events with clearly defined roles and profound meanings.

     In this book of photographs and in the images in this gallery exhibition, Frej’s photography, illuminates indigenous rites and rituals in compelling imagery. Starting with the early December celebrations of the Virgin Mary in Mexico’s Yucatán, the book chronicles feast days of patron saints in Chiapas, Mexico and Rabinal, Guatemala; the Carnival celebrations before Lent; Holy Week before Easter; and finally, the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico. Thirteen ceremonies are chronicled. Three of these-the Masked Dance of Abraham and Isaac, in Yucatan, Mexico; the Puáaxku jitsé, in Santa Teresa, Nayarit, Mexico; and the Achí masked drama in Rabinal, in the highlands of Guatemala-are singular events unlike any others. This book, and the accompanying exhibition, is a captivating visual record of the rich, still-alive traditions in Guatemala and Mexico, conveyed through striking black and white photography.

View the exhibition catalog

About the Artist
William Frej has been photographing indigenous people for over 40 years, while living in Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Mexico, as well as other remote mountainous regions of Asia, documenting the changing lifestyles and architecture of many of the world’s unique cultures. In 2014, his one-person photographic exhibition Enduring Cultures was featured at Galeria La Eskalera in Merida, Mexico as part of a citywide arts festival. It included recent black and white and color photography from Afghanistan, Upper Mustang, Nepal, and San Augustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico. During 2015-2016, his photography was featured in the exhibition which opened June 2015 at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, titled Tradicion, Devocion Y Vida: 80 years of Black and White Photography in New Mexico and Mexico. His photography of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) in Oaxaca, Mexico was exhibited October-December 2015 in a one-person show at Peters Projects Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Black and white photographs were featured in a major exhibition entitled Chimayo: A Pilgrimage Through Two Centuries at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2016. His work was featured in the exhibition The Maya at Peyton Wright Gallery also in 2016. His work was also featured in Mirror, Mirror: Photographs of Frida Kahlo in 2017 at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe.

Mr. Frej’s photographs were also featured in one-person exhibitions, The Nomads of Kyrgyzstan, in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2008 and Himalayan Pilgrimage, at the Museum of Asia and the Pacific in Warsaw, Poland in 1998. His photographic work, Taninbar to Tibet, was featured in a one-person show at the Duta Fine Arts Museum and Gallery in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1991. Mr. Frej’s other exhibitions include the Tucson Art Center in 1972, The Eye Gallery in San Francisco in 1977, and the San Francisco Arts Festival in 1976 and 1977. His photographs of Peru received purchase awards from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Arts Festival in the 1970s.

His photographs of the Himalaya, India and Africa were featured in the Edwin Bernbaum book, Sacred Mountains of the World, and his photographs of India’s Tilwara camel fair were highlighted in Adventure Travel Magazine. Mr. Frej’s photographic work is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia.

Mr. Frej’s book, Maya Ruins Revisited: In The Footsteps Of Teobert Maler, (Peyton Wright Gallery Press), has won thirteen awards:

Independent Press Award, Best Photography Book, 2021

International Book Awards, Best Photography Book, 2021

Foreward Indies, Gold Medal, Photography, 2021

New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, First Place Winner, Anthropology/Archaeology, 2021

National Indie Excellence Awards, Best Photography Book, 2021

The Prix de la Photographie PX3, Silver Medal, Photo Book, 2021

Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Silver Medal 2021

IPPY Awards, Independent Publishers, Silver Medal, Photo Book, 2021

Moscow International Foto Awards, Silver Medal, Photo Book, 2021

New York City Big Book Awards, Distinguished Finalist

International Photography Awards, Honorable Mention, Book, Fine Arts, 2021

International Photography Awards, Honorable Mention, Book, Documentary, 2021

Foreward Indies Photo Awards, Honorable Mention, Coffee Table Book, 2021

View the current catalog