Maya Apprentice Project Reclaims Culture Through Papermaking
Ancient Mayas were skilled papermakers and bookmakers. The Morgan Conservatory’s Maya Apprentice Project seeks to assist in the reintroduction of a hands-on skill that has a long tradition in Maya history.
From August to November, Maya scholar, Ajpub’ Pablo García Ixmatá will be visiting from Guatemala to learn techniques in papermaking and bookbinding. By utilizing natural and recycled fibers from both Western and Eastern papermaking traditions, García intends to make a variety of traditional and modern book structures and will share these techniques with native Maya communities through workshops.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity granted to me by the Morgan, and the knowledge that has been conserved there that in one way or another has been practiced by Maya people but unfortunately was lost through the radical change in materials and methods that replaced those ways of working and creating,” says García.
Ancient Mayas were the only indigenous population in the Western Hemisphere to have developed a full writing system. Known as “Mayan hieroglyphs,” they created books using paper made from the bark of local trees and wrote on the pages using natural pigments.
Libraries of thousands of such books once existed but most were destroyed during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries by Spanish soldiers and missionaries who viewed Maya culture as alien and believed the books to be works of the devil. Over time, many other manuscripts succumbed to insects, moisture, and dust over centuries of hidden storage. Today, only four fragmentary books remain.
In the 1980s and ’90s, many young Maya scholars including García received training in linguistic analysis and epigraphy (the study and interpretation of ancient inscriptions) and by now it is generally agreed that 90% of the script can be read with reasonable accuracy. Today, native Mayas are active researchers in the fields of linguistics and epigraphy, and regular workshops, led by García, are held to teach Mayas to read and write in the ancient script as part of programs that strengthen cultural identity, historical awareness, and revitalization.
“My recent research and practice includes the rescue and reclamation of Mayan culture,” he says. “The truth is, the project for me is an opportunity to retake the knowledge and keep discovering that which is still hidden in my own community and among indigenous people.”
Most modern Mayas connect with culture through architecture, weaving, and folklore. Assisting in the reintroduction of paper arts to this culture provides a new tangible creative art form to record and preserve their own ideas, stories, biographies, and observations.
“The apprenticeship and education that I have in Cleveland will be one more tool for me to keep fighting to strengthen the identity of the Mayan people and will also support the conservation and dignified treatment of nature,” he says.
2017 ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE EXHIBITION | AUGUST 17–SEPTEMBER 15
RECEPTION 6–9PM FRIDAY AUGUST 17
Elaine Battles, Joey Behrens, Nicole Donnelly, Hong Hong, Cara Lynch, Anna Wagner
KNOW HOW (PART III) | AUGUST 17–SEPTEMBER 15
RECEPTION 6–9PM FRIDAY, AUGUST 17
Summer workshop instructors exhibition
11TH ANNUAL BENEFIT & SILENT AUCTION | 6–10PM SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6
WONDER | OCTOBER 19–NOVEMBER 21
RECEPTION 6–9PM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19
Alternative processes and photo-based prints by Amber Ford, Tatana Kellner, Yana Mikho-Misho, Bellamy Printz
SHOOTING WITHOUT BULLETS | OCTOBER 19–NOVEMBER 21
RECEPTION 6–9PM, FRIDAY OCTOBER 19
Framing issues of social injustice through artwork & photography
MAPPING THE INVISIBLE LANDSCAPE | OCTOBER 19–NOVEMBER 21
RECEPTION 6–9PM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19
An exchange portfolio organized by Anna Tararova featuring 21 artists
MORGAN MARKET, HOLIDAY BAZAAR | DECEMBER 1–30
Featuring art and handmade items
Hours of operation: 10am–4pm, Tuesday–Saturday
BLADES ON BOARDS: EXPLORATIONS IN WOODBLOCK PRINTMAKING | 10AM–4PM, SEPTEMBER 8–9
XL2: EXTRA LARGE TYPE BEYOND THE BORDERS | 10AM–4PM, SEPTEMBER 15–16
MARBLING ON PAPER AND CLOTH | 10AM–4PM, SEPTEMBER 29–30
COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE MORGAN & CLEVELAND PRINT ROOM:
PAPERMAKING & PULP PAINTING FUNDAMENTALS | 10AM–4PM, NOVEMBER 3–4
VAN DYKE BROWN PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS | 10AM–4 PM, NOVEMBER 10
Students can register for workshops together or individually. Those who sign up for both workshops can receive a 15% discount when registering by phone.
To register for a workshop & for more details, please visit our website morganconservatory.org or call 216.361.9255
AJpup’atMAM conference 2018: Maya scholar, Ajpub’ Pablo García Ixmatá
C Atitlan workshop group session: Workshop in Atitlán, Guatemala to train young teachers in the use of Mayan literature (poetry and narrative) in the curriculum through art, nature, recycling, and storytelling.
The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation
1754 East 47th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44103