Replicas and Reunions: Ancient and Contemporary Ceramics from Ecuador at the Gardiner Museum
Replicas and Reunions: Ancient and Contemporary Ceramics from Ecuador
November 10, 2022 – March 12, 2023
Gardiner Museum, Toronto
Free Curator Talk with Maya Wilson-Sanchez
Thursday November 10, 6 – 8 pm
Replicas and Reunions: Ancient and Contemporary Ceramics from Ecuador features a new body of work by Quito-based artist Pamela Cevallos and five collaborators from the rural coastal town of La Pila: Andrés López, Genaro López, Daniel Mezones, Javier Rivera, and Guillermo Quijije. The installation explores the artisanal and ancestral knowledge of ceramic production in Ecuador and the continuity of a longstanding tradition.
La Pila and its surrounding regions have been important sites for archeological excavation since at least the middle of the 20th century. Many ancient Indigenous cultures represented in the Gardiner Museum’s collection —like the Jama Coaque, Bahía, Chorrera and Manteño—are from this area. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, some of the residents of La Pila worked to excavate ancient ceramics on their own or alongside national and international archeologists and art dealers. As an alternative to agricultural work, many residents in La Pila became ceramists and worked to reverse engineer the techniques of their ancestors. Fueled by new national and international interest in collecting ancient ceramics from Latin America, these artisans started making ceramic replicas to sell to tourists and intermediaries for the art market.
In the 1970s and early 80s, George and Helen Gardiner, the founders of the Gardiner Museum, were swept up in this collecting trend. Their collection of works from the Ancient Americas includes at least 24 ceramic objects from Ecuador purchased from auction houses in New York City and from American art dealers. Cevallos pairs several ancient Ecuadorian objects from the Gardiner Museum’s collection with replicas commissioned from artisans in La Pila to recognize their knowledge and contribution to contemporary art and archeological understandings of the region. She also juxtaposes her paintings to ceramics commissioned from respected senior artisan Guillermo Quijije to respond to timely discussions of the international transit of non-Western cultural objects into systems of capitalist exchange through museum collection-building.
Replicas and Reunions offers a compelling case study that ranges from the early 20th century to today, and involves Ecuador, the United States, and Canada, presenting examples of critical and playful approaches to the issues and themes of building colonial collections, ancestral knowledge, and museum alternatives.
Learn more at gardinermuseum.com.
Curated by Maya Wilson-Sanchez, Gardiner Museum Curatorial Resident.
The Gardiner Museum Curatorial Residency is made possible through the generous support of the Rebanks Family.
ABOUT PAMELA CEVALLOS
Pamela Cevallos is a Quito-based artist, anthropologist, and curator. Her work explores the social life of things, including collecting practices and the use of archives. She has researched the history of national museums in Ecuador and the process of heritage-making during the 20th century. Since 2015, Cevallos has worked with the La Pila community around the memories and knowledge of artisans that create archaeological replicas. She is the recipient of the New Mariano Aguilera Prize (2017) and the Paris Prize of the XV Cuenca Biennial (2021). She is a professor at the Visual Arts School of the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.
ABOUT MAYA WILSON-SANCHEZ
Maya Wilson-Sanchez is a curator and writer based in Toronto and New York. She is interested in processes of history-making and building connections between local and international communities to foster networks of exchange and solidarity. The 2020 recipient of the Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators, Wilson-Sanchez was a 2021 participant at the Tate Intensive in London, UK. She curated Intra-Action: Live Performance Art (2016, 2017) at Xpace Cultural Centre; Living Room (2017) at the Royal Ontario Museum; DIY Love: Queer Knowledge & History Then, Now, and Forever (2017) at Pride Toronto; Grounding (2020) at the Art Gallery of Guelph; and most recently served as one of the main curators for Toronto’s Year of Public Art, curating the 2021-2022 exhibition series I am land.
ABOUT THE GARDINER MUSEUM
The Gardiner Museum brings together people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared values of creativity, wonder, and community that clay and ceramic traditions inspire.
The Gardiner Museum’s collection of ceramics comprises approximately 4,000 objects, and focuses on specific areas which have been collected in depth. These include the most important collection of European porcelain in Canada, with particular strengths in Meissen, Vienna, and Hausmaler decorated porcelain, as well as a comprehensive collection of figures inspired by the commedia dell’arte. It holds the best collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica in Canada, and a superb collection of English tin-glazed pottery. The Gardiner preserves highly significant collections of ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese blue and white porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary Canadian ceramics. It also houses a research library and archives, clay studios, award-winning Shop, and a restaurant.
The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the world’s most notable specialty museums. For more information, please visit: gardinermuseum.com.
The Gardiner Museum is an accessible venue with a ramp from the street leading up to the main lobby entrance. The entrance is accessible via two sets of double doors with an access button. Accessible restrooms are available on the second and third floors. Third floor washrooms are also gender neutral.
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