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Temporary Exhibits

Current Issues in Anthropology: Afghanistan

End Date: Sunday, May 1, 2022

Assadullah in Kabul bakery 2018 (Photograph by Ivan Flores, for article "In Kabul, Naan Endures, by Ruchi Kumar)

The Maxwell Museum's Current Issues in Anthropology exhibitions are timely displays that affirm out commitment to share information and create a forum to address current events and issues affecting our region and our world. 

Paired displays in the Hibben Center and the Maxwell Museum address recent events in Afghanistan and seek to share knowledge on recent history, provoke thought and encourage action 
Both exhibitions feature objects of every day life: hats in one and bread in the other.  Four hats in a variety of regional styles (and one necklace) are featured in a single-case exhibition in the Maxwell Museum.  In Afghanistan, as throughout the world, clothing styles signal ethnic identity, religious affiliation, and even political loyalties. Among the hats featured is a pakol, a felted wool hat from the Nuristan region of eastern Afghanistan. Because of their association with the Northern Alliance resistance to the Taliban, pakol hats were banned by the Taliban during their first period of rule from 1996 to 2001. This exhibition, curated by Carla Sinopoli, presents some general information on the history of Afghanistan, a landlocked nation of tremendous ethnic, linguistic, and environmental diversity located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Southwest Asia.  A timeline summarizes the last 40+ years of Afghan history, from the 1979 Soviet invasion to the 2021 U.S. departure.  
Bread, the main staple of Afghan cuisine, is the focus of a photo exhibition curated by Dr. Devorah Romanek in the atrium of the Hibben Center.  The significance and history of bread making, selling, and eating provide a lens into the recent history of Afghanistan. Long a male occupation, the large numbers of widows created by 40 years of war led to the rise of widows' bakeries and small woman-run operations. The social  and economic liberalization of the post-2001 period led to the flourishing of urban café culture, creating places where young men and women could interact. Today, these cafés have closed and the recent takeover by the Taliban coupled with the withdrawal of international donors and a catastrophic drought have intensified the hunger already experienced by many Afghan people. The price of wheat has risen dramatically and the United Nations' World Food Program estimates that 93% of Afghanistan's people are not getting enough to eat and as many as a million children may die of starvation this winter.  
A handout available near both exhibitions contains information on how you can help Afghani refugees in New Mexico and organizations providing aid in Afghanistan.


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From the Headwaters to the Mouth: Additional Amazonian Collections in the Maxwell Museum

End Date: Sunday, May 1, 2022

Shipibo effigy jars (chomo).  (MMA 2007.39.1 L, MMA 80.46.3 R)


The Maxwell Museum holds a small collection of objects and reproductions from the Amazon. From Headwaters to Mouth features objects spanning 2000 years from communities on opposite ends of the River: the island of Marajó at the mouth of the Amazon, and along the Ucayali River in Peru, a major tributary that feeds into the Amazon at its head. Shipibo artists are renowned for their intricately decorated pottery and textiles, ornamented with kené, designs that exist beyond the realm of humans and emerge from the skin of the primordial anaconda. Contemporary and historic photographs of Shipibo artists, landscapes and communities enrich the exhibition, which also feature a distinct Marajoaran object directly connected to the lost National Museum of Brazil. 


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Indigenous Women: Border Matters

End Date: Saturday, April 23, 2022

Indigenous Women: Border Matters  features a timely look at four Indigenous women artists who speak to issues on both sides of the U.S. border. Their practice is guided by contemporary issues of identity, self-determination, human rights, and the impacts on the human experience. The works explore and question how Indigenous women interact with the land we inhabit. The layering of symbolism, meaning in the art, and deconstructing concepts including memory, cultural heritage, and politics, form the basis of the exhibition by artists Makaye Lewis (Tohono O'odham), Daisy Quezada Ureña (Mexican-American), M. Jenea Sanchez (Latinx), and Gabriela Muñoz (Latinx). 
Lewis states, "As a Tohono O'odham citizen, my art stems from environmental influences and my culture. I come from a Tribal nation on the border, and we never experienced removal from our traditional lands. I am comforted knowing that I am where I am meant to be. Still, I find discomfort in knowing the many issues that arise when an imaginary political line leaves half my reservation in the United States and half in Mexico." 
The exhibition comes to us from the Wheelwright Museum, where it was curated by Chief Curator Andra R. Hanley.  We thank the Wheelwright and the artists for sharing their works with us.

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Heartbreak: A Love Letter to the Lost National Museum of Brazil

End Date: Saturday, February 19, 2022

The fire destroyed the last records of Indigenous languages no longer spoken, and irreplaceable examples of material culture from now colonized Indigenous groups. Years of government neglect and underfunding led to dangerous conditions at the museum and culminated in its destruction. Some view the government’s handling of the National Museum as analogous to their treatment of Brazil’s indigenous nations. There are hundreds of distinct Indigenous groups currently living in traditional ways in the Brazilian Amazon. However, they are under increasing threat from violence and encroaching industrial activity. Immediately after taking office in January of 2019,Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro began radically stripping the Indigenous nations and their lands of their rights and protections. Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest quadrupled in the first month of Bolsonaro’s presidency alone.

The loss of the Amazon rainforest is not only catastrophic for the Indigenous people who make it their home, but for all Brazilians in relation to their history and culture. Further, it impacts all of us around the globe. The Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in regulating global climate. It stores huge amounts of harmful carbon dioxide and is responsible for creating 20% of the planet's oxygen, earning it the name "the lungs of the planet." The Indigenous nations of Brazil have intimate knowledge of this delicate ecosystem, making them not only stewards of the Amazon rainforest, but of the planet at large.

This exhibition is a love letter to what was lost in the fire that destroyed the National Museum of Brazil, and a cautionary tale of the current political situation in Brazil, which has compounded the losses suffered from the fire. It is a letter to the Indigenous nations of Brazil, to all Brazilians, and to all of us who rely on the Amazon, the “lungs of the planet.”



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