New exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History showcases the art and lives of the Huicholes

February 9, 2017


For immediate release

Gatineau, Quebec, February 9, 2017 — Known around the world for their stunning yarn paintings and beadwork, the Huicholes — or Wixaritari, as they call themselves — are featured in a new small-scale special exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History.

Huicholes – A People Walking Towards the Light examines the artistic legacy and cultural traditions of a people whose history dates back some 15,000 years. The Huicholes live primarily in the western Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas. They have traditionally worked in commercial tobacco fields and raised crops and animals. Today they increasingly support themselves through the sale of their crafts in cities.

“As Canada commemorates 150 years since Confederation, Mexico is delighted to honour the long-standing friendship and commonalities between our two North American nations,” declares his Excellency Agustin Garcia-Lopez Loaeza, Ambassador of Mexico to Canada. “We are proud to present this exhibition highlighting the art, culture and traditions of one of our First Nations. It is filled with symbolism, giving us a glimpse of the expansive and engaging cosmovision of the Huicholes. Let us take this opportunity to celebrate our roots as we look toward the future together.”

“We are deeply grateful to the Embassy of Mexico in Canada for helping to bring this show to the Museum — our first in this important sesquicentennial year,” says Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Canadian Museum of History. “Such partnerships help to enhance visitors’ knowledge of world history and cultures, in this case by giving them a better understanding of the art and lives of the Huicholes.”

One of the most stunning features of the exhibition is a series of 26 yarn paintings by the late Huichol artist-shaman José Benítez Sánchez. Meticulously created by laying down brightly coloured yarn on a bed of beeswax and pine resin, the paintings depict stylized gods, animals, foods and nature, and have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the United States.

Also included in the exhibition are artifacts such as textiles and ceremonial objects, along with evocative photographs of Huichol village life and spiritual traditions. One of these traditions is a yearly walking journey in search of the peyote used in sacred ceremonies.

Huicholes – A People Walking Towards the Light opens on February 10, and will be presented at the Museum until March 19, 2017. The exhibition will then travel to the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, where it will open in April 2017.

This exhibition is on loan from Artes de México with the support of the Embassy of Mexico in Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, through the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum’s principal role is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped Canada’s history and identity, as well as to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and culture. Work of the Canadian Museum of History is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.

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