Rebecca R. Stone received her B.A. from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1979. Her 1987 Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University took her to teaching one year at the Johns Hopkins University, then to Emory University where she was a professor In the Art History Department and Faculty Curator of Art of the Americas at Emory's Michael C. Carlos Museum for 30 years.
Textiles were the Incas' most prized possessions. Their first gifts to European strangers were made not of gold and silver, but of camelid fibre and cotton. They believed that the highest form of weaving was created expressly for the sun, which they considered the greatest of the celestial powers.
This survey of the art and architecture of the ancient Andes is the first single-volume account designed for a general and art historical audience. Although the Incas are justifiably famous as the masters of the largest empire in the Renaissance world, their art - and that of the creative cultures flourishing for over three millennia before them - has remained unfamiliar. Yet the vast cities, tall pyramids, shining goldwork and intricate textiles of the Andes constitute one of the greatest artistic traditions in history. Professor Stone-Miller reveals here the strikingly varied artistic achievements of the Chavin, Paracas, Moche, Chimu and Inca cultures, among others. Placing emphasis on the aesthetic response to an extremely inhospitable environment, she explores the complex symbolic values of the art forms, giving wide-ranging examples of sculpture, architecture, earthworks such as the famous Nasca Lines, metallurgy, textiles and other media.
The arts of the ancient Americas are diverse, visually arresting, and sometimes enigmatic. In this wide-ranging catalogue, nearly six hundred works of art from Mesoamerica southward are presented, with particular emphasis on the lesser-known area of ancient Costa Rica. Included are works from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, created in clay, stone, metal, wood, fiber, bone, and shell. Important pieces receive in-depth treatment -- a two-thousand-year-old Costa Rican female shaman effigy, the earliest known sculptural rendition of the Maya hieroglyph for the animal spirit, and gold earspools probably worn by a high official in the ChimÖ Empire of Peru.
A major emphasis is placed on the shamanic experience of transformation into animal selves, since this subject preoccupied artists throughout the ancient Americas. New and exciting research, including ground-breaking geological analyses of greenstones (ìjadesî) by William B. Size, makes this catalogue an act of discovery.
Shamanism—the practice of entering a trance state to experience visions of a reality beyond the ordinary and to gain esoteric knowledge—has been an important part of life for indigenous societies throughout the Americas from prehistoric times until the present. Much has been written about shamanism in both scholarly and popular literature, but few authors have linked it to another significant visual realm—art. In this pioneering study, Rebecca R. Stone considers how deep familiarity with, and profound respect for, the extra-ordinary visionary experiences of shamanism profoundly affected the artistic output of indigenous cultures in Central and South America before the European invasions of the sixteenth century.
Using ethnographic accounts of shamanic trance experiences, Stone defines a core set of trance vision characteristics, including enhanced senses, ego dissolution, bodily distortions, flying, spinning and undulating sensations, synaesthesia, and physical transformation from the human self into animal and other states of being. Stone then traces these visionary characteristics in ancient artworks from Costa Rica and Peru. She makes a convincing case that these works, especially those of the Moche, depict shamans in a trance state or else convey the perceptual experience of visions by creating deliberately chaotic and distorted conglomerations of partial, inverted, and incoherent images.
Having studied museology in graduate school at Yale I went on to select the 80 pieces for display in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston's 1992 exhibition "To Weave for the Sun: Ancient Andean Textiles" and write the catalogue on the entire collection (at the time, ___ pieces).
For thirty years I served as Faculty Curator of the Art of the Americas at Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum and reinstalled the permanent collection three times, redesigning and reinterpreting well over 400 pieces each time. I curated two major exhibitions and six one-gallery installations, as well as served as site curator for another five travelling package shows. Materials from textiles to gold, stone and ceramics to photographs were represented.
The first major exhibition was "'For I am the Black Jaguar': Shamanic Visionary Experience in Ancient American Art." It contained 115 pieces and explored how art from a wide range of ancient American cultures embodied trance experience, particularly human transformation into animal selves, as well as sacred plants, music, and meditation as catalysts for visions. The Jaguar Within served as an adjunct publication to this show.
The second major exhibition was "Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles." It included 146?? Pieces representing the ancient and modern Andes, modern Panama (the Guna) and Guatemala (the Maya). The project included a web-based catalogue of the same name, hosted to the present here.
Three one-gallery curated shows included Native North American art: "From the Center of the Sacred Hoop: Native North American Art" (46 objects) and "Walking in the Footsteps of the Ancestors: the Melion-Clum Collection of Modern Southwestern Pottery" (32 objects), [Grandfather Sun, Grandmother Moon: title and number of pieces] Three others featured Andean art: "Tears of the Moon: Andean Precious Metals" (51 objects), "The Body Beautiful: Ancient Ecuadorian Ceramic Figures from the Collection of the Banco Central del Ecuador" (18 objects), and "The Female Image in Ancient Colombian Art: Selections from the Stephen and Claudia Kramer Collection" (18 objects).
In addition, I served as site curator for two NNA shows: "Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection" (___objects) and "Beauty from the Earth: Pueblo Indian Pottery from the University Museum of Art and Archaeology" (113 objects). Two Andean and one Central American site-curated exhibitions were "Shamans, Gods, and Mythic Beasts: Colombian Gold and Ceramics in Antiquity" (___objects), "Planet Peru: An Aerial Journey through a Timeless Land [Photographs by Marilyn Bridges]" (40 objects), and "River of Gold: Pre-Columbian Treasures of Sitio Conte [Panama]" (189 objects),.