June 12, 2010 Justin Kerr: "Signposts of the Otherworld"
we study images from Mesoamerica, we sometimes wonder whether we are
seeing what we conceive of as the REAL world, or we are looking into
the Otherworld. Mr. Kerr prefers to use the word Otherworld rather than
Underworld because he believes the ancient peoples saw themselves
dealing with parallel universes, where the abode of the gods and other
supernatural beings moved along in conjunction with the mundane
happenings of living. Mr. Kerr tried, in his talk, to point
out some guide posts that we may be able to use to ascertain which of
the abodes the ancient artists were describing. There are many
controversial aspects to this presentation, as a number of the images
looked at need a leap of imagination to see into the
Otherworld. Justin also pointed out that some images describe
both the real world and its counterpart, the Otherworld, at the same
Justin Kerr is the recipient of the first Linda Schele award for
outstanding contributions to the study of Mesoamerican Art and Culture.
He has been photographing and studying Precolumbian objects from
Mesoamerica for more than 40 years. He has led workshops on the
iconography of Maya vases at the Texas meetings in Austin for 26 years.
He has given to talks to many of the Pre-Columbian societies on many
subjects concerning the images on vessels and their interpretation.
his wife Barbara, they have published six volumes of the Maya Vase
Books, collections of rollout photographs and essays. Over the past two
decades he has organized and implemented both the Maya Vase Database
and the Precolumbian Portfolio, accessible from www.mayavase.com, an internet
resource for the study of the Precolumbian world.
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