U.Va. Art Museum Connects 'Big Read' and Native American Art in March 3 Saturday Tour

February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012 — Mary Jo Ayers, adjunct curator of Native American art at the University of Virginia Art Museum, will give a talk on Native American work on view in the museum's new Object Study Gallery on March 3 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Ayers' talk, "Native American Art of the Southwest: When Cultures Meet," is a partnership with the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library and the National Endowment for the Arts' annual "Big Read," designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American popular culture.

The featured book for this year's "Big Read" is Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima." It chronicles the coming-of-age of Antonio Márez y Luna with the guidance of Ultima, his "curandera," or traditional folk healer or shaman, mentor and protector. Since its publication in 1972, it has become the most widely read and critically acclaimed novel in the Chicano literary canon.

Ayers has been a docent with the museum since 1976 and an adjunct curator of Native American art since the early 1980s. During this time, she has curated several major exhibitions of Native American art for the museum, given numerous talks on the Astor Collection, and supervised the conservation and growth of the museum's Native American holdings.

Her talk will explore the diversity and flexibility of native artists as they incorporated new materials and ideas brought to the area by the Spanish.

The museum usually offers its Saturday Special Tours on the third or fourth Saturday of every month from 2 to 3 p.m. These tours offer the opportunity to join faculty, curators and scholars as they explore a variety of focused topics related to museum collections and exhibitions.

Saturday Special Tours are free and open to the public. For information, call 434-243-2050 or email museumoutreach@virginia.edu. The museum is located at 155 Rugby Road, one block from the Rotunda.