Wixaritari: People walking Towards Dawn
Underlying the entire exhibit is a tension between the western perception of reality being grounded in empirical data—reality is what we can count and name—and the more traditional human sense of reality being what we experience with no clear demarcations between waking experience and dreams. In a sense, it’s an exhibit that could put Anchorage’s westerners in a position of having to confront their own implicated colonialism. -- The Anchorage Press
Out North Contemporary Art House and the Mexican Consulate in Anchorage in collaboration with partners and supporters are honored to bring the art of shaman José Benítez Sánchez (1938-2009) through the exhibit "Wixaritari: People Walking Towards Dawn". The exhibit has made its way through France, Japan, Canada, and we now have the privilege to host it for the first time in Alaska.
The Huichol indigenous people live in western Mexico in an area that is difficult to access for those who are not used to walking long distances through the mountains. They are also known as the Wixaritari, and have been studied since the end of the 19th century by different anthropologists that have been captivated by the vibrant beauty of their ritualistic art, their refined embroideries and weavings, and their rich mythology. In contrast to many other indigenous peoples in Mexico that have adopted the Catholic religion, the Huichols still practice their ancestors’ beliefs, structuring their community life and rituals around them.
They believe that the universe has been divided into three worlds, which are found in both their mythology and in their local geography: the ocean to the west, where life begins; the mountains, where the activities of everyday life take place, and the Desert of Dawn to the east, where the Huichols perform a pilgrimage in search of illumination.
Out North Contemporary Art House
3800 Debarr RD
Anchorage, AK 99508
Exhibit Hours: Sat-Sun, 12-4pm or by appointment
Contact Info: Indra Arriaga, 907.952.1959 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Through this exhibit we get to know more about these three worlds of the Huichol universe through the “yarn paintings” done with colorful fibers on boards covered in beeswax or pine sap by the mara’akame (shaman) José Benítez Sánchez, whose indigenous name means “the silent walker.” As one of the most famous Huichol artists, Benítez Sánchez was part of a generation of shamans who devoted their lives to the wisdom of initiation and artistic creation. And without a doubt his body of artistic work is both aesthetic and suggestive, inviting us to contemplate it in wonder.