Temperatures are in the 80s in Kuna Yala, Panama. We can’t guarantee it will be that nice at the Logan Museum on Thursday—although it is a constant, comfortable 68 degrees and 50 percent relative humidity year-round. What we can give you is a taste of Kuna Yala’s vibrant colors, as well as cake and other refreshments, at the museum’s spring semester exhibits opening reception this Thursday afternoon from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Our big exhibit for this semester is Mola Textiles: Expressions of Kuna Indian Identity, curated by Nicolette Meister. The Kuna Indians of Panama make molas, textile panels composed of layers of colored cloth cut and sewn to create elaborate figurative and geometric patterns. The panels are then sewn onto the front and back of Kuna women's blouses, as seen in the image above. Wearing mola—traditional Kuna dress—is an ongoing visual statement of Kuna identity. In the 1960s, mola production was commercialized and remains an important source of income for the Kuna. Our new exhibit explores the cultural significance and history of molas and the impact of commercialization and the global economy on mola production. The exhibit highlights the Logan Museum's extensive mola collection, which includes a recent acquisition of over 80 molas from Marianne and Robert Huber.
We also have some very interesting student work to show off, completed at the end of last semester. Professor Christina Clancy completed museum projects with two of her classes, both of which became exhibits. Shut the Front Door, curated by her Writing 100 class, explores the idea of “home,” and Objects of Inspiration II continues the creative link between museum objects and poetry written by her creative writing students (several examples can be seen below). Also, when Molly McCracken’12 graduated, she left us with Quillwork of the Odawa. This exhibit, located in the study drawers in the Shaw Gallery, introduces the quill-working tradition of the Odawa (Ottawa) Indians of the Upper Midwest.
Popular exhibits also continue from last fall, including our FYI common reading tie-in Promptly and Easily: Frederick Starr and the Indians of Southern Mexico. This exhibit explores Starr’s work in the context of prevailing racial attitudes that existed in anthropology 110 years ago. And speaking of Starr, Professor Donald McVicker’s new biography of Starr singles out Beloit College for our work at reviving the educational values of Starr’s research.
For those who like to ponder human ingenuity and rocks, we have reinstalled our popular Blades, Beads and Burins: The Paleolithic Era in France. This exhibit explores the remarkable range of tools made by early humans in France during the last Ice Age. The Logan Museum houses one of the largest collections of these materials outside of France.
Check it all out on Thursday (Jan. 31) at the Logan Museum of Anthropology.