A print from Strand’s Mexican Portfolio is included in the exhibition, as well as two of Alvarez Bravo’s most famous photographs, Obrero en huelga, asesinado (Striking Worker, Assassinated) and La buena fama, durmiendo (Good Reputation, Sleeping). Completing documentation of this artistic exchange is a portrait of Alvarez Bravo taken by Arnold Herman Crane, a trial lawyer turned photographer, for his 1997 book, The Other Side of the Camera.
If Pan American Modernism can be denoted as mining a vein of discovery from the Lowe’s collection, then additional nuggets are also to be found in a tightly focused exhibition that explores similar issues of stylistic influences, albeit between pre-Columbian and indigenous art in Panama.
From Ancient Art to Modern Molas: Recurring Themes in Indigenous Panama is part of the Lowe’s Art Lab program, which lets University of Miami faculty and students organize exhibitions from its permanent collection. UM students traveled to Panama to discuss molas— hand-stitched cotton panels and blouses made of multi-colored and multilayered cotton cloth— and the meaning of the designs with Guna artists on the San Blas islands.
These colorful textiles are noted for rich stories they tell about traditional Guna life. Most of the exhibition is comprised of molas that show the continuity and changes of their design elements over the last century. The designs derive from aspects of traditional indigenous life, but sometimes the designs are highly abstract with obvious connections to designs found on the pre-Columbian pottery of Panama. Molas drawn from the Lowe’s extensive collection are supplemented by examples of pre-Columbian pottery from Gran Cocle and Chiriqui cultures that employed some of the same designs.