The Maya

The Maya is an exhibition highlighting the late Classic Period through an extraordinary marriage of pre-Colombian artifacts and luminous black and white images of Mayan ruins captured by photographer William Frej. As a young adventurer, Mr. Frej passed through the Yucatan and was captivated by the mystery the Maya embodied through the colossal remains of their culture scattered throughout the jungle. Forty years later, after a life dedicated to the study of architecture and diplomatic service with its attending engagement with culture, he returned to the cradle of his inspiration.

Now a renowned photographer, he spent three years penetrating remote jungles and the forgetful gauze of time to document the wonders of ancient Mayan development in the Yucatan, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Campeche. Obscured and consumed over the course of a millennium by the ravenous jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula and the Lacandon, many of the wonders captured anew by these living images have stood unvisited since Teobert Maler documented them in the late 19th century.

Moving through the galleries viewers will be transported by a sense of connection to the impulse of the Maya to memorialize their experience of being in clay and stone. Mayan craftsmen celebrated the human form in three dimensions across a variety of media. An extraordinary example of their artistry in stone is offered in the Head of a Dignitary. This object is a unique death portrait whose elegant headdress and ear spools declare status while a serene expression conveys a timeless air of dignity. As visitors leave the gallery they will take with them a sense of continuity common to the human experience. With a feeling of constancy conveyed by exposure to the world, these objects embody a deep breath of a world filled with mystery and majesty in concert with all of time.

Read Khristaan D. Villela’s review of the exhibition in Pasatiempo.

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