NCMA Recommends: Incense Burner

Guatemalan, Tiquisate region, Incense Burner, circa 300—600, ceramic with traces of white, yellow, and black paint, H. 23 x W. 17 3/4 x D. 10 in., Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Francis Robicsek

This censer lid shows a miniature temple adorned with quetzal birds, flowers, and jewels. The central figure depicts a person who died on the battlefield. The piece, originally from Tiquisate in present-day Guatemala, replicates the art style from central Mexico. The chimney attached to the back allowed the aromatic smoke to escape, creating a link with supernatural beings and ancestors.

A Message in the Sky

The beauty of the Guatemalan kite is not only in its vibrant colors and impressive size, but also in its purpose. The large circular kites are sent into the air on November 1, All Saints Day, as reassurances from the living to the dead: “We are OK. We love you.” Learn more about this tradition and marvel at the beauty of these flying works of art, and then come see one at the NCMA on November 1.

A Mural in Morganton

The NCMA is partnering with TOSS Studios in creating a mural in Morganton, N.C., in the western part of the state. The mural promotes the biodiversity of the region along with its cultural diversity, recognizing the perspective and talents of the Hispanic community. Raleigh-based artist Alexa Eliana Chumpitaz has been selected to complete the mural.

“I so appreciate the struggles my parents went through, just so that I could have a better life here. I am a first-generation American on both sides of my family, and my parents never hesitated to support my decision to be an artist. This mural is important, not just for me, but for others who need a vision of hope. For me it demonstrates that you can make an impact as a Latinx American. I want my art to engage, educate, and empower all types of people, in different walks of life.”—Alexa Eliana Chumpitaz


First in Flight

From the beauty of a Guatemalan kite to our state’s iconic cardinal, and all the way to the Wright brothers’ soaring achievement, North Carolina’s culture is full of connections to the air! The NCMA is honored to host the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s 2020 Aviation Art Contest, celebrating young artists who sent in their original art to compete on the state, national, and even international stage.

Contemporary Clay and Ancient Symbols

How do artworks speak to each other across the ages and tell the stories of human experience? Join us on Tuesday, October 27, for a virtual conversation between ngel Gonzalez, GlaxoSmithKline Curatorial Fellow, and contemporary ceramic artist Natalia Arbelaez.

Virtual Lecture on Ancient American Art

Join us for a lunchtime virtual lecture on Thursday, November 12, about the Museum’s collection of ancient American art. ngel Gonzalez, GlaxoSmithKline Curatorial Fellow, brings a refreshing view of materials from three cultural areas (Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Andes), encompassing at least seven present-day countries.

Learn More

This ceramic incense burner comes from Tiquisate, along the Pacific coast of present-day Guatemala, but it imitates an art style from Teotihuacan in central Mexico. Teotihuacan was the first ancient city in the Americas, built nearly 800 years before the Aztec empire. Learn more about this work of art and related concepts, and see a related video about nature altars, on the Museum’s NCMALearn website.

Glimpses of Diverse Cultures

This week’s recommended films depict indigenous communities, their language, customs, and beliefs, and also show remnants of some of their disappearing traditions.–Maria Lopez, Manager of Film and Lecture Programs

 – Ixcanul (2015). Director: Jayro Bustamante. Maria, a young Mayan woman, lives with her parents at the base of an active volcano as she awaits her arranged marriage. This is the first film made in the Kaqchikel Mayan language and was Guatemala’s entry into the Academy Awards. Rent on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube.

– Embrace of the Serpent / El abrazo de la serpiente (2015). Director: Ciro Guerra. This Colombian film tells of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and two scientists seeking a sacred healing plant. Watch on Amazon, or rent on iTunes or YouTube.

– Lorena, Light-footed Woman / Lorena, la de pies ligeros (2019). Director: Juan Carlos Rulfo. This Mexican short documentary depicts a young woman of the Tarahumara/ Rar¡muri community who is known for her extraordinary long-distance running abilities while wearing sandals. Watch on Netflix.

– Pachamama (2018). Director: Juan Ant­n. This animated family-friendly film centers on Tepulpai, a young Peruvian boy living in a remote village in the Andes who dreams of becoming a shaman. Watch on Netflix.

Audio Description 

The recording below is an audio description of Incense Burner. Audio description is narration for individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is a means to inform them about visual content essential for comprehension.

Read about Guatemala

Family reading: Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Casta±eda, illustrated by Enrique O. S¡nchez. The beautiful countryside of Guatemala comes to life through the story of a young girl and her grandmother, a weaver of Mayan tapestries.

Young adult contemporary: We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez. “Torres Sanchez has created tender and vulnerable characters with Chico, Pulga, and Peque±a. The authentic and harsh reality of this story is one of immigrants fleeing violence and enduring violence for the sheer hope of a different possibility … Torres Sanchez tackles the story of three Guatemalan unaccompanied minors with compassion and fortitude.”–Reviewed by Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez and Ingrid Campos


Oct 23, 2020


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