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Art and Artists
 Berenice Abbott
 Giovanni Canal
 Frank Gehry
 Marsden Hartley
 Louis Lozowick
 Mexico (Nayarit)
 David Nash
 Georgia O'Keeffe
 Vincent van Gogh

Inner Worlds What is Art?   Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Mexico (Nayarit)
About the Artist

The state of Nayarit is located in western Mexico along the Pacific Ocean and is separated from central Mexico by volcanic mountains. The area is divided into two zones: a highland area in the mountains, and a narrow lowland plain of tropical forests and grasslands along the coast. Valleys with pine and oak forests grow in the highlands.

The highlands have a mild climate with plenty of rain. While today the lakes are almost dry, 2,000 to 5,000 years ago there was enough water to sustain deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds. Western Mexicans were probably farmers.

Separated from the rest of the country by high mountains, the village people of western Mexico maintained a way of life for centuries. In other parts of Mexico, powerful rulers, deities, and priests were considered the most important people in society. Gigantic temples and pyramids were built in their honor. In western Mexico the people lived simply and cooperatively. They believed in a spirit world that could be contacted through a shaman.

Archaeologists believe the many clay objects and figurines discovered in Nayarit tomb burials may have been created as "furnishings" for the afterlife. The Nayarit people wanted to make it as comfortable for the dead as it was for the living by furnishing the tombs with familiar, everyday objects. The clay objects were buried in tombs near the deceased.

Western Mexican clay sculptures are more realistic than other Mexican art forms created at that time. They depict men and women at work, at home, and socializing. These sculptures feature plump dogs and crouching cats and people of all ages sitting and standing, playing musical instruments or ball games. Often, whole families and villages are portrayed grinding corn, tending children, eating meals, or carrying jars and heavy loads.

Vocabulary Terms

archaeologist--A scientist who studies the life and customs of past cultures by examining their material remains, usually artifacts such as utensils, stone carvings, architecture.

Realism--A style of art that represent nature accurately as seen by the human eye.

shaman--A holy man or woman who has contact with the gods or spirits.

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