The book I choose for my research project titled “The Hidden Life of The Ancient Maya” is the book that drove me to search, discover, and develop the style I currently use as my foundation for creating my art projects. The search for my inheritance in my ancestral identity started by looking at ancient Mesoamerican art by checking books out from the school libraries and diving deeper into the books available in book stores. I continued my commitment to be in search of my identity by connecting to other artists that were also in search form their roots in Mesoamerica. This amplified my determination as I found a strong community in this search that united me with other like-minded artists. In the year 2011, I was at a book store near my home called “Boarders” and I was exploring some art related books with my older brother. Without consciously looking for a Mesoamerican art book, I caught a glimpse of a book that stood out form the rest. Even though there were other similarly interesting books around it I picked up “The Hidden Life of the Ancient Maya” and from that point on this book has been an excellent reference in the search of my cultural identity. This book made me hungry for creative outlets, particularly in creating master studies of the ancient work to try in understand the style and techniques used then and apply them to the contemporary work I do today. I was especially fascinated by the ancient Maya culture. I discovered not only the beauty and craftmanship within each creation the ancient Maya people, I also discovered how knowledgeable, wise and how technically advance this culture really was and continues to be in places like the Yucatán, Mexico and Guatemala. The most valuable discovery I have found is that the culture of the ancient Maya is still here and did not disappear as most scholarly institutions would like others to believe. The resilience of this ancient culture and how they were able to preserve their knowledge and wisdom is one of the most inspiring parts about this research. I personally identify with the Maya culture in that I discovered that of I to have Maya blood running through my veins. Through enough research of my own family and my physical traits I was able to connect to much of the research I found. Additionally, I went on a journey with a medicine woman from Mexico who showed my connections to the Maya through shamanic traditions known throughout Mesoamerica today. The resonance I made with my culture made sense to why I kept reading and searching for Mayan books like “The Hidden Life of the Ancient Maya.” This pushed me to find answers about my heritage and this book still continues to inspire my artwork and is a signature style that I call “Ancestrally rooted artwork”.
The development of my artistic style started by using photographed images of Maya reliefs, hieroglyphs, sculptures, paintings, pottery and codex books. The book that I choose to highlight in my research project briefly touches upon all these mediums. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Mueso de Antropologia that exhibited a special collection of ancient Mayan art in Mexico, City. When I finally had the privilege of seeing Mayan art in person I was able to recognize much of imagery and symbolism because of reading books like “The Hidden Life of the Ancient Maya”. This real-life encounter expanded my connection as a descendant and gave me the confidence speak from my experience in Mexico City. Seeing artwork that I deeply connected to from the photography in the book to being front of it in person has been life changing. I now have the drive I need to become the artist I know I can be. Books have the power to change you, to spark inspiration you never thought you would have, and connect you to interesting parts of yourself. It is books like this and classes like this one that assist me to engage my personal journey in creating constructive projects that are critical for conveying the mission I wish to share.
Picture of Shield Jaguar and Lady Xok from “The Hidden Life of the Ancient Maya” found on pages 144 and 145.
Here is a community collaborative mural I did this summer. I painted the figure on the right side a modern version of Lady Xok found in the image on top.
Gibson, Clare. The Hidden Life of the Ancient Maya. New York: Metro Books, 2010.