Hidden life of things Exhibit overview with intro banner and graphic panel banners

The Hidden Life of Things: Andean and Amazonian Cultural Artifacts and the Stories They Tell

  • Duration:Temporary
  • Location:Whitten Gallery of South American Peoples

(date) 11/06/2018–12/16/2018

The Andes and Amazonia have long histories conveyed through oral traditions, material objects, and other forms of cultural expression. Wisdom and meaning were, and continue to be, passed down from one generation to the next via the processes and meanings behind beautifully-made things. These practices communicate ideas and information just as written texts do in other contexts.

This exhibit presents some of the ways Indigenous communities inscribe rich narratives of their cultural and historical experiences in tactile surfaces and performance traditions rather than on paper. It features Andean and Amazonian cultural artifacts as historical and literary text in their own right, providing insight into alternative literacies and historiographies.

This traveling exhibit was produced by the Center for Latin American Studies at The Ohio State University in collaboration with various units on campus and funding support from a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant and a private donation from Norman E. Whitten to The Ohio State University. The exhibit was developed by and is on loan from The Ohio State University. The objects in this exhibit support a growing curriculum on the Andes and Amazonia at OSU and are part of a developing Integrated Learning Environment for the Study of Andean and Amazonian Languages and Cultures that features activity-based and experiential pedagogies compatible with non-Western traditions and that engage prevailing forms of Indigenous knowledge, power, resistance, and self-determination.

  • round ceramic vessel with animal head with open jaw Coati Mundi or Cucuchu by Apacha Vargas, Nuevo Mundo, Ecuador
  • woven bag with strings and red, tan, and block geometric pattern Shigra (crosslinked bag)
  • smooth orange round orange object with line art of animals and instruments Calabaza Tallada (etched story gourd), Andean Ecuador
  • flat textile with orange field and geometric design Unkhuña, Chinchero, Cuzco, Peru
  • three faceless dolls made of mismatched fabrics, holding brooms Andean Aruchico Festival Dancers with Aya Uma Masks
  • overview photo of graphic panels and the exhibit entrance along with a graphic panel of the exhibit title reading: 'the hidden life of things'
All object images are courtesy of The Ohio State University.