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Replicas and Reunions: Ancient and Contemporary Ceramics from Ecuador

Thu Nov 10, 2022 to Mar 12, 2023, All Day

Lobby Display

Curated by Maya Wilson-Sanchez, Gardiner Museum Curatorial Resident

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. This is the first exhibition of renowned Ecuadorian artist Pamela Cevallos in North America, and a unique in-depth research project into the Gardiner Museum’s collection of ancient ceramics from Ecuador.

The Gardiner Museum Curatorial Residency is made possible through the generous support of the Rebanks Family.

ABOUT PAMELA CAVELLOS 

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 CURATORIAL RESIDENCY

The Gardiner Museum Curatorial Residency provides the successful applicant with a paid opportunity to conceive, research, and produce a small-scale museum exhibition and gain experience in a professional environment. The aims of the residency are to create an opportunity for aspiring and emerging curators; to promote new approaches to the study and presentation of ceramics; and to support a new, diverse generation of curators by offering them an opportunity to communicate their ideas to a broad public.

PROGRAMS & EVENTS

Thursday November 10, 6 – 8 pm
Free Curator Talk and Reception with Maya Wilson-Sanchez
Join Gardiner curator Maya Wilson-Sanchez for a free discussion on the exhibition.

Friday November 11, 1 – 2 pm
Free Curator Tour with Maya Wilson-Sanchez (Spanish)
Join curator Maya Wilson-Sanchez for a free tour and discussion on the exhibition, presented in Spanish.