February 4 - August 4 2013
6 p.m., Thursday, March 14
The Gallery, second floor east end
Anderson Student Center
Gallery Viewing Hours - Summer
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday
Noon-4 p.m. Saturday
Wowipitsj: Man, Myth, Legend celebrates how wowipitsj, master carvers, preserve and celebrate oral traditions through their art. By translating myths and legends into a static medium, carvers interpret, document, and celebrate their history and culture. Traditionally, the term wowipitsj referred to expert sculptors, people whose skill and knowledge allowed them to guide the large collaborative carving projects needed for ceremonies. Examples of these monumental Asmat works include ancestor poles, bisj poles, and spirit canoes, wuramon (two bisj poles and a wuramon and are on display in the permanent section of the gallery). The processes by which large-scale sacred carvings are created and the contexts in which they are used remain a central part of Asmat animistic faith; they strengthen relationships with ancestral spirits. Today, many wowipitsj have expanded their carving repertoire and make narrative works for an external clientele. This exhibition features those narrative carvings that are inspired by oral traditions.
In addition to narrative carvings well-crafted tools featured in oral accounts are also on display. A carrying bag or an arrow can be empowered or transformed by ancestral spirit forces. As with the sculpture, the oral traditions reflected in them help to understand Asmat culture and act as moral guideposts; they encourage contemplation of challenging situations and/or unusual circumstances that offer no easy response or explanation.
Exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.
Accessibility requests: (651) 962-6315