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Past Presented Receives the Association for Latin American Art’s Annual Book Prize

Past Presented Receives the Association for Latin American Art’s Annual Book Prize

Stela D, Copan, steel-plate engraving by S. H. Gimber, after drawing by Frederick Catherwood, from John Lloyd Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, 1841.

Past Presented: Archaeological Illustration and the Ancient Americas, edited by Joanne Pillsbury, will be awarded the Association for Latin American Art’s annual book prize on February 12 at the College Art Association meeting in Chicago. The award, supported by the Arvey Foundation, is for the best scholarly book published on the art of Latin America from the Pre-Columbian era to the present. This comes only a year after Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks received the College Art Association’s Alfred A. Barr, Jr. Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections and Exhibitions.

Illustrations remain one of the fundamental tools of archaeology, a means by which we share information and build ideas. Often treated as if they were neutral representations, archaeological illustrations are the convergence of science and the imagination. This volume, a collection of fourteen essays addressing the visual presentation of the Pre-Columbian past from the fifteenth century to the present day, explores and contextualizes the visual culture of archaeological illustration, addressing the intellectual history of the field, and the relationship of archaeological illustration to other scientific disciplines and the fine arts. One of the principal questions raised by this volume is how do archaeological illustrations, which are organizing complex sets of information, shape the construction of knowledge? These visual and conceptual constructions warrant closer scrutiny: they matter, they shape our thinking. Archaeological illustrations are a mediation of vision and ideas, and the chapters in this volume consider how visual languages are created and how they become institutionalized. Past Presented: Archaeological Illustration and the Ancient Americas is about the ways in which representations illuminate the concerns and possibilities of a specific time and place and how these representations, in turn, shaped the field of archaeology.

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