Exhibition Highlights Shamanism in Arts of the Americas

May 26–September 26, 2004

Stanford, CA, January 30, 2004—Shamanism, the world’s oldest religion, continues to be practiced in many places around the world. An exhibition focusing on the shamanic basis for much New World art opens at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University on May 26, 2004. “The Shamanic World-View: Arts of the Americas” features approximately 50 objects, drawn primarily from the Cantor Arts Center’s own collection.

"The shaman mediates between the world of ordinary reality and the spirit world," explained Winfield Coleman, curatorial assistant of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, who organized the exhibition. "Shamanic cultures, especially preliterate cultures, share a similar vision of the cosmos and of life, nature, and the human condition. This vision is encoded in their art, which helps both to define and to manipulate this complex cosmos."

Shamanic art objects are especially associated with ceremonies of initiation, death, healing, war, and the shaman’s journey to the Spirit World. This exhibition, which continues through September 26, 2004, focuses on those art forms that most clearly reflect the world-view of the indigenous Americans. Objects on view include an Arapaho dance shield, Hopi Shalako katsinas, a Panamanian sun disc made of gold, and Amazonian headdresses. Ceramic vessels represent cultures from as far apart in time and geography as precolumbian South America and 20th-century southwestern U.S. Pueblos. Items of body ornament and dress range from moccasins to pendants to feather bonnets.

The exhibition is made possible by the Halperin Exhibitions Fund.

Free Lectures: The Center presents two Ruth K. Franklin Lectures on May 26, 2004, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Bishop Auditorium, Graduate School of Business, free with open seating. Armand J. Labbé, Director of Research and Collections at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Santa Ana, California, will focus on shamanism in New World art in his lecture "Precolumbian Shamanism in Cross-Cultural Perspective." Dr. Michael Harner, Director of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Mill Valley, California, will speak on "Visionary Aspects of Shamanism." For information, call 650-725-3155.

Visitor Information: The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford campus off Palm Drive, at Lomita Drive and Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 p.m. and all day on weekends. Weekday pay parking is available in front of the Center or in the parking garage nearby. Call 650-723-4177 for information, including exhibitions in 24 galleries and outdoor sculpture gardens.