Lowe Art Museum. Sacred Stories, Timeless Tales: Mythic Traditions in World Art

Through Oct 23, 2011

Mythic traditions are rooted in fictitious, symbolic narratives developed by cultures through time, which address the relationship between the inexplicable and the explicable, between the powers and forces that control the world and the human beings who occupy that world. Frequently reflecting regional differences, these sacred stories helped – and in some present-day cultures continue to help – elucidate a people’s religion, history, system of values, rituals, and concepts of self. As myths exist apart from – and are not dependent upon – verifiable facts or scientific objectivity for their impact on society, they typically involve deities, heroes, wondrous creatures, and fantastic events.

Mythological narratives were originally transmitted and preserved orally, during eras when people could neither read nor write, and paper was not available. Written traditions did not develop until a later moment on mankind’s cultural time line, as scribes and poets sought to formally preserve stories in writing, lest they disappear. Artistic expression bridges both word-based systems, transforming into vivid pictorial or sculptural forms, concepts that spoken and textual forms of communication can only convey through mental images. Regardless of cultural derivation or individual inspiration, all the works in the exhibition represent an artistic urge to visually address those universal questions to which mythologies respond, and which unite humankind through time.

Sacred Stories, Timeless Tales addresses multi-cultural mythic traditions in art, drawn exclusively from the permanent collection of the University of Miami Lowe Art Museum. Concepts of creation, love, morality, mortality, seasonal regeneration, the cosmos, beauty, divinity, heroes, and war are explored in over one hundred examples of pottery and ceramics, paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and textiles.

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