June 12, 2010 Justin Kerr: "Signposts of the Otherworld"

            When 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 time.      
            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.
            With 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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