Ingrained Images: Wood Carvings from Easter Island
In the nearly 50 years since the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology has been in its present location, the Museum has hosted approximately 150 temporary exhibitions. In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month, this month we feature Maxwell Museum exhibitions that looked at AAPI communities and contributions to the New Mexico and the world.
The 1997 exhibition, Ingrained Images: Woodcarvings of Easter Island celebrate the wood carving tradition of the residents of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Wooden carvings of sacred beings, ancestral spirits, human and animal representations, and functional objects have long been carved throughout Polynesia. Ingrained Images introduced Maxwell visitors to the rich history of Rapa Nui carving and featured the work of esteemed Rapa Nui artist Bene Aukara-Tuki, a master carver in wood and stone. Guest curator, anthropologist Joan Seaver Kurze spent much of the 1980s in Rapa Nui, learning from woodcarvers and documenting their work. The exhibition contextualized the history and forms of Rapanui carving, the sacred qualities of woodworkers’ tools, and the introduction of new stylistic forms in the late 20th century as carvers began to produce images of Christian saints for installation in Catholic churches.
To see some of Bene Tuki’s work and learn more about his work, watch this Spanish language video produced by mana Rapunui tv and check out Joan Seaver Kurze's 1997 book and catalog. Ingrained Images: Wood Carvings from Easter Island (Woodland, CA: The Easter Island Foundation and Cloud Mountain Press).