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July 6, 2009

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Voicing Indigenous ARTifacts: Amazonian Featherwork opens July 7 at Harn Museum

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An exhibition born from the collaborative effort of two Cultural Plaza institutions and University of Florida graduate students opens July 7 at the Harn Museum of Art. Voicing Indigenous ARTifacts: Amazonian Featherwork features headdresses, masks, necklaces and other body ornaments made of materials from the Brazilian rainforest.

The nine works that will be displayed in the Harn Museum’s Langley Foyer are part of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Amazonian Collection.

Voicing Indigenous ARTifacts is an ideal collaborative exhibition combining the efforts of two doctoral candidates who have spent years in the Amazon with UF faculty experts who have contributed to the exhibition and other scholars who have spent a lifetime studying Amazonian cultures,” said Susan Cooksey, curator of African art at the Harn Museum. “This is truly a small jewel of an exhibition—visually dazzling with a scholarly presentation.”

Voicing Indigenous ARTifacts establishes the cultural and historical context for body ornaments that can be viewed as both artifacts and works of art. In Amazonian societies, the vibrantly colored ornaments embellish and extend the body, defining the “social skin” that endows the individual with a collective identity.

In presenting the selection of objects, the exhibition also acknowledges the plight of endangered species that were used to produce the works on display. Voicing Indigenous ARTifacts provides the opportunity to educate audiences about the issues of their appropriate use within indigenous contexts and the problem of illegal exportation.

The exhibition was organized by Sonia and Renzo Duin, doctoral candidates from the UF anthropology department. The Duins worked with Dr. Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American art and archeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, and Susan Cooksey, curator of African art at the Harn Museum, to plan the exhibition.

July 19 at 3 p.m., Sonia Duin is presenting a gallery talk discussing the uses of the objects within indigenous contexts and problems that arise when the works are exported illegally.

The Harn Museum is hosting a symposium Sept. 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. that will feature presentations by UF professors and students. The symposium is free and open the public.

The exhibition is made possible by the Dr. Madelyn M. Lockhart Endowment for Focus Exhibitions. The exhibition will be on display until Sept. 15.

Admission to the Harn Museum of Art is free. For more information visit or call 352-392-9826.

High-resolution images of works in the exhibition are available at:

Related Program List

Gallery Talk, July 19, 3 p.m.
Sonia Duin, Doctoral Candidate, University of Florida, Department of Anthropology

“Voicing Indigenous ARTifacts”
Join guest curator Sonia Duin for an engaging look at the vibrant and spectacular body ornaments displayed in Voicing Indigenous ARTifacts. Duin will discuss the use of the objects within indigenous contexts and problems that arise when the works are exported illegally.

Symposium, September 5, 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Join speakers as they offer insights into the cultural and historical context for body ornaments that can be viewed as both artifacts and works of art. The titles of the symposium presentations include “Voicing Indigenous Perspective—Artifact, Art, Performance from a Non-Western Perspective,” “Contextualization of the Amazonian Collection: An Overview,” “Performativity of Artifacts,” “Anthropology of Religion,” “Ecology of Religion,” and “Art Law.”

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
The Harn Museum of Art at SW 34th St. and Hull Rd. is one of the largest university art museums in the country with nearly 7,000 works in its collection focusing on African, Asian, modern and contemporary art and photography. The museum enhances the activities of the University of Florida and serves a culturally diverse audience through educational programming. Admission is free. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free on weekends. The Camellia Court Café is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 352-392-9826 or visit

Media contact:
Tami Wroath, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Harn Museum of Art
352.392.9826 x116

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