Mayer Center Symposia

To date the Mayer Center has organized twenty-one international symposia on various topics in ancient and Latin American art. These events support innovative research and scholarship by well-known and up-and-coming scholars in the field.

Neocolonial: Inventing Modern Latin American Nations

2022 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Dr. Jorge Rivas, Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of Latin American Art, and Dr. Lynda Klich, Associate Professor, Hunter College, CUNY.

In the first half of the 1900s, Latin American artists, architects, and designers searched for visual languages that matched the modern identities of their young nations. Surprisingly, many found their answers in the aesthetics of their colonial past. This symposium explores the paradoxical nature of this neocolonialism by examining a wide array of art, from painting and architecture to furniture and graphic design. A group of international scholars will probe the meanings, cultural agendas, and contradictions that emerged when artists in democratic nations grounded their work in the visual regime of imperial Spain at a time of rising consciousness of Indigenous cultures and Panamericanism.

ReVisión: A New Look at Art in the Americas

2022 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Victoria I. Lyall, PhD & Jorge F. Rivas Perez, PhD. Sponsored by the Mayer Center.

Inspired by the exhibition ReVisión: Art in the Americas, the 20th annual Mayer Center symposium focused on the art of the Americas as a single interwoven story by collapsing time and distance to connect history, legend, memory, and the present.

El Mar Caribe: The American Mediterranean

2019 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Victoria I. Lyall, PhD. Sponsored by the Mayer Center

A two day symposium focused on the Ancient American communities who resided around and within the Caribbean Sea.

Materiality: Making Spanish America

2018 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Jorge Rivas. Sponsored by the Mayer Center.

During the early modern period in Spanish America, artists and craftspeople experimented with a variety of local natural resources and imported materials—pigments, fibers, feathers, shell, stone, wood, clay, silver, gold—which resulted in a new and unique visual culture. This symposium will bring together an international group of scholars to explore topics central to the formation and evolution of materiality in the Spanish Americas.

Murals of the Americas

2017 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Victoria Lyall. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and Ready Foods.

Artist Judy Baca argues that muralism is a work made in relatedness: related to the people that surround it; related to the place it is in, and made in a public voice. Like Baca, artists across the Americas created murals that spoke to the period and communities for which they were designed. This symposium brings together an international group of scholars to discuss new approaches to understanding the function and meaning of both ancient and modern murals as well as their enduring legacy.

Circulación: Movement of Ideas, Art and People in Spanish America

2016 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Jorge Rivas Perez. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum.

The movement of artwork and artists, as well as the circulation of ideas and ideologies, shaped culture in Spanish America. A group of international scholars will assemble in Denver to explore topics related to artistic exchange, ranging from local interactions to global networks, and their influence on the art and architecture of the region.

The Ancient Maya: Dance, Writing, Art

2015 Mayer Center of Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Margaret Young-Sanchez. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum.

The ancient Maya created one of the New World’s most advanced civilizations. Recent advances in the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphic writing have led to breakthroughs in the understanding of Maya history, court life, rituals, and religious beliefs. Symposium speaker Matthew Looper will describe the work of the Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project, headquartered at the University of California, Davis, and also explore the meaning of dance imagery on Maya ceramics. Yuriy Polyukhovych’s presentation will focus on works in the Denver Art Museum’s impressive collection of Maya art. Finally, the speakers will share new decipherments and interpretations with the audience in an informal gallery tour. The symposium will be held in conjunction with the pre-Columbian installation, Grand Gestures: Dance, Drama, Masquerade.

New England / New Spain: Portraiture in the Colonial Americas, 1492-1850

2014 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Dr. Donna Pierce, Mayer Curator of Spanish Colonial Art, Denver Art Museum, and Dr. Emily Ballew Neff, Saxon Director & Chief Curator, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum

For the fourteenth symposium in our series, we assembled an international group of scholars to present recent research on portraiture in the Spanish colony of New Spain (Mexico) and the British colonies of North America. Scholars presented tandem talks addressing the evolution of portraiture as well as the similarities and differences in the colonial experience of the two regions.

Fabled Kingdoms: Luxury Arts of Peru's Northern Desert

2013 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Margaret Young-Sanchez. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum.

Festivals and Daily Life in the Arts of Colonial Latin America

2012 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

Organized by Donna Pierce. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum.

Held in November 2012, the twelfth symposium in the Mayer Center series invited specialists in the arts and history of Latin America to present recent research on topics ranging from discussions of ephemeral architecture, painting, and sculpture to engravings, decorative arts, and costumes and clothing of the period.

Marajo and the Ancient Amazonian World

2011 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

A symposium held in conjuction with the exhibition, Marajo: Ancient Ceramics from the Mouth of the Amazon. Curated by Margaret Young-Sánchez and on view at the Denver Art Museum June 11-September 18, 2022.

At the Crossroads: The Arts of Spanish America and Early Global Trade, 1492–1850

2010 Mayer Center for Ancient and Latin American Art Symposium

During the era of early global trade instigated by the voyages of Columbus, Spanish America served as a crossroads for trade between Europe and Asia. Trade goods were exchanged between all areas and inspired artists to appropriate motifs, styles, and techniques previously unknown to them. The impact of trade on the arts of all regions and the transmission of objects and ideas between Spanish America, North America, Europe, and Asia will be included.

The Art of Teotihuacan and its Sphere of Influence

Organized by Margaret Young-Sánchez. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum

November 7-8, 2009 — Sharp Auditorium (Hamilton Building), Denver Art Museum

Speakers

  • Warren Barbour (State Universtiy of New York at Buffalo): Host Figurines and the Social Order of Teotihuacan: Soldiers, Traders, Diviners and Peasants
  • George Cowgill (Arizona State University, Tempe): Nose Pendants: Signs of Rank and Office in the Political System of Teotihuacan?
  • Annabeth Headrick (University of Denver): Mass Production in a Preindustrial Age: Individuality and Ideology in Teotihuacan's Censers
  • Charles C. Kolb (National Endowment for the Humanities): Classic Teotihuacan Period Ceramic Production
  • James Langley (Canadian Society for Mesoamerican Studies): A Distant Prospect of Teotihuacan
  • Matthew Robb (Saint Louis Art Museum): The Torch and the Shield: Architectural and Iconographic Continuities at the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl
  • Saburo Sugiyama (Aichi Prefectural University, Japan): Cosmology, Militarism, and Polity Materialized at the Major Monuments in Teotihuacan
  • Karl Taube (University of California, San Diego): Teotihuacan and the Ceramic Art of Escuintla, Guatemala: Iconography and Cosmology in Early Classic Mesoamerica

The Arts of South America, 1492-1850

Organized by Donna Pierce. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum

November 7-8, 2008 — Sharp Auditorium (Hamilton Building), Denver Art Museum

Speakers

  • Luisa Elena Alcala (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid): Cult Images in South America
  • Michael Brown (Denver Art Museum): D.C. Stapleton: Collecting Spanish Colonial Art from Quito to Bogota during the Gilded Age
  • Tom Cummins (Harvard University): Andean Colonial Art in the Early Seventeenth Century
  • Sabine MacCormack (Notre Dame): The Poetics of Representation in Early Colonial Peru
  • Jorge Rivas (Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Caracas): The Unintentional Catalogue of Spanish Colonial Furniture: Guaman Poma de Ayala's Nueva Coronica y Buen Gobierno
  • Nuno Senos (Universidade Nova de Lisboa): Buildings at War: Franciscan Architecture in Colonial Brazil
  • Susan Verdi Webster (College of William and Mary): Native Artisans and the Construction of Colonial Quito

Costa Rica and the Pre-Columbian World: Honoring the Contributions of Frederick Mayer

Organized by Margaret Young-Sánchez. Sponsored by the Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum

November 10, 2007 9AM-5PM — Sharp Auditorium (Hamilton Building), Denver Art Museum

This year’s symposium is organized to pay tribute to Frederick Mayer - his passion for Pre-Columbian art and his dedication to promoting scholarship in the field. He and his wife Jan assembled an encyclopedic collection of Costa Rican art which they generously gifted to the Denver Art Museum.

Speakers

  • Margaret Young-Sánchez (Denver Art Museum): Introduction: Honoring the Contributions of Frederick Mayer
  • Michael Coe (Yale University): The Remembrance of Things Past: A Personal Perspective on New World Archaeology
  • John Hoopes (University of Kansas): Ancient Costa Rica and the Chibchan World
  • Fred Lange (University of Colorado at Boulder) and Ronald Bishop (Smithsonian Institution): The Greater Nicoya Ceramic Project: The Marriage of Art History and Archaeology
  • David Mora Marin (University of North Carolina): A Brief History of the Middle American Jade Exchange Network: The Costa Rica/Maya Interaction
  • Michael Snarskis (Independent Archaeologist/Consultant, Costa Rica): Distribution of Scientifically Excavated Gold Artifacts and Regional Symbolism
  • Jane Day (Independent Scholar, Denver): Reflections of Shamanism in Ancient Costa Rican Art

Asia and Spanish America: Trans-Pacific Artistic and Cultural Exchange, 1500-1850

Organized by Donna Pierce & Ronald Otsuka, DAM Curator of Asian Art. Sponsored by Mayer Center, the Asian Art Department Jackson Endowment and the Denver Art Museum.

November 3-4, 2006 — Denver Art Museum & Denver Athletic Club

During the 1500s, Spain established an extensive trade connection with Asia from the Philippines through Spanish America. Some goods were shipped on to Spain, but others remained in the Americas and inspired local artists in many media. Asians immigrated to the Americas and major industries for the production of export goods developed throughout Asia. The symposium brought together a distinguished interdisciplinary, international group of scholars in Asian and Spanish Colonial arts. It explored new fields of scholarship that focused on multicultural and global studies.

Speakers

  • Gauvin Bailey (Boston College): The Influence of Asian Art in the Spanish and Portuguese Americas
  • Clara Bargellini (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico): Asia at the Missions of Northern New Spain
  • Roxanna M. Brown (Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, Bangkok University, Thailand): Chinese Gilt Porcelain to the New World
  • Gustavo Curiel (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico): The Perception of the Other and the Language of "Chinese Mimicry" in the Decorative Arts of New Spain
  • Abby Sue Fisher (Keweenaw National Historic Park, Michigan): Trade Textiles: Asia and New Spain
  • Evelyn Hu-Dehart (Brown University): Asian Diaspora in Spanish America
  • George Kuwayama (Los Angeles County Museum of Art): Chinese Porcelain in Viceroyalty of Peru
  • Meiko Nagashima (Kyoto National Museum): Japanese Lacquers Exported to Spanish America and Spain
  • Sonia Ocaña (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico): Enconchado Frames: The Use of Japanese Ornamental Models in New Spanish Painting
  • Jorge Rivas (Fundación Cisneros, Caracas, Venezuela): Of Luxury and Fantasy: The Influence of Asia on the Furniture of Viceregal Spanish America
  • Etsuko Rodríguez (Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain): Early Manila Galleon Trade: Merchants’ Network and the Market in 16th and 17th Century Mexico
  • Sofia Sanabrais (New York University): The Globalization of Taste: Japanese and New Spanish Folding Screens
  • Mari Takamatsu (New York University): Nanban - Japanese Screen Paintings
  • Marjorie Trusted (Victoria & Albert Museum, London): Propaganda and Luxury: Small-Scale Baroque Sculptures in Viceregal America

Tiwanaku: Ancestors of the Inca

Organized by Margaret Young-Sánchez. Sponsored by Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum.

January 14-15, 2005 — Denver Art Museum & Denver Public Library

Speakers

  • Leonardo Benitez (University of Pennsylvania): Time and Calendrics at Tiwanaku
  • Susan Bergh (Cleveland Museum of Art): Expressions of Dualism in Middle Horizon Tapestry Tunics
  • James Blackmon (Independent Scholar): Gods and Ancestors, Ritual and Sacred Space: Early Tiwanaku as Seen Through the Gateway Tunic
  • Christiane Clados (Free University of Berlin): Tiwanaku Iconography: Some New Aspects
  • William J. Conklin (Field Museum and Textile Museum): The Iconic Dimension in Tiwanaku Art
  • Anita Cook (Catholic University of America): Painting Gender and Cosmos During the Middle Horizon
  • Georgia DeHavenon (Brooklyn Museum): The Power of an Icon: References to the Gateway of the Sun from the 19th Century to the Present
  • Paul S. Goldstein (UC, San Diego): A Different Kind of Ancient State: New Research on Tiwanaku Expansion
  • John W. Hoopes (University of Kansas): Tiwanaku Origin Myths and Inca Kingship Ritual
  • William H. Isbell (SUNY, Binghamton) and Patricia J. Knobloch (Institute of Andean Studies): Iconography and Redefinition: The Tiwanaku Art Styles
  • Jean-Pierre Protzen (UC, Berkeley): A Vision of Tiwanaku Architecture
  • Alexi Vranich (University of Pennsylvania): Monumental Dynamics at Tiwanaku
  • Patrick Ryan Williams and Donna Nash (Field Museum): Beer and Identity in the Middle Horizon Borderlands
  • Thomas Zuidema (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne): Tiwanaku Calendar and Iconography

Painting a New World: Mexican Art and Life, 1521 - 1821

Organized by Donna Pierce. Sponsored by Mayer Center, the Cooke-Daniels Memorial Lecture Fund and the Denver Art Museum.

April 17-18, 2004 — Denver Art Museum

Speakers

  • Clara Bargellini (UNAM, Mexico City): Enconchado Paintings of New Spain: Invention and Originality in Images of the Virgin of Guadalupe
  • Jonathan Brown (Institute of Fine Arts, NYU): Painting of New Spain Within the Context of Spanish Painting
  • Gustavo Curiel (UNAM, Mexico City): Painted Folding Screens and Asian Influence in New Spain
  • Pablo Escalante Gonzalbo (UNAM, Mexico City): Portraits of Moctezuma
  • Elena Estrada de Gerlero (UNAM, Mexico City): Aztec Feather Painting Traditions in the Colonial Period
  • Ana Paulina Gamez (Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City): Clothing and Accessories in Colonial Portraits
  • Ilona Katzew (LA County Museum of Art): Casta Paintings in Mexico
  • Elizabeth Perry (Framingham State College): Painted Nuns' Badges and Portraits
  • Rogelio Ruiz Gomar (UNAM, Mexico City): The Art and Artists of New Spain, 1521-1650 The Art and Artists of New Spain, 1650-1821
  • Alessandra Russo (L'Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris): Pre-Columbian Cartography Techniques in Early Colonial Mexico

New World Art at the Denver Art Museum

Organized by Donna Pierce and Margaret Young-Sánchez. Sponsored by Mayer Center, the Cooke-Daniels Memorial Lecture Fund and the Denver Art Museum.

March 2-3, 2002 — Denver Art Museum

The 2002 symposium focused on the Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Collections of the Denver Art Museum. Distinguished scholars presented lectures relevant to important objects in the collection.

Speakers

  • Warwick Bray (University of London): Panamanian gold work
  • Carolyn Dean (UC, Santa Cruz): Inca imagery in Peruvian colonial painting
  • Samuel Edgerton (Williams College): Mission architecture in colonial Mexico
  • Cristina Esteras Martin (Universidad Complutense de Madrid): Colonial silver and gold work of Latin America
  • Maria Concepcion Garcia Saiz (Museo de America, Madrid): Casta paintings in colonial Mexico and Peru
  • Juana Gutierrez Haces (UNAM, Mexico City): Paintings by Cristobal de Villalpando
  • Alexandra Kennedy (University of Cuenca, Ecuador): Colonial sculpture of Ecuador
  • Carol Mackey (Cal. State, Northridge) and Joanne Pillsbury (Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia): Chimu silver work
  • Jeanette Peterson (UC, Santa Barbara): Virgin of Guadalupe in colonial Mexico
  • Patricia Sarro (Youngstown State University): Teotihuacan stone sculpture
  • Rebecca Stone-Miller (Emory University): Costa Rican art
  • Margaret Young-Sanchez (Denver Art Museum): Tiwanaku art
  • Marc Zender (University of Calgary): Maya inscriptions

Andean Textile Traditions

Organized by Margaret Young-Sánchez. Sponsored by Mayer Center and the Denver Art Museum.

January 27-28, 2001 — Denver Art Museum & Denver Public Library

Speakers

  • Ran Boytner (Getty Conservation Institute and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA): Andean Textile Dyes: An Intimate View of Cultural Preferences and Choices
  • Ed Franquemont (Institute of Andean Studies): Jazz: An Andean Sense of Symmetry
  • Andrea M. Heckman (University of New Mexico): Contemporary Andean Textiles as Cultural Communication in Ausangate, Peru
  • Marianne Hogue (Virginia Commonwealth University): Cosmology in Inca Tunics and Tectonics
  • Teresa A. Knutsen (Art Conservation Center at the University of Denver): Conservation Treatments for pre-Columbian Textiles
  • Amy Oakland-Rodman (UC Santa Barbara): Late Wari and Lambayeque Textiles at El Brujo, Chicama Valley, Peru
  • Joanne Pillsbury (Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, University of East Anglia): Inka Unku: Strategy and Design in Colonial Peru
  • Jane W. Rehl (Emory University): Weaving Principles for Life: Discontinuous Warp and Weft Textiles of Ancient Peru
  • Lisa Tulchin (Independent Scholar): Design and Visual Perception in Wari Tapestry Tunics
  • Margaret Young-Sánchez (Denver Art Museum): Four-Part Headcloths from Middle Horizon Central Coast Peru