El Museo del Barrio
Altares de los Orishas:
El Museo del Barrio is pleased to announce the inauguration of a new exhibition program, the Caribbean and Latin American Traditional Art Series. This project will officially be launched on April 9, 1999, when it opens to the public. Three interrelated exhibitions, curated by Associate Curator Fatima Bercht, will highlight religious practices--including popular Catholicism, Espiritism, and Orisha Worship--and how they have interacted in the Spanish speaking Caribbean, particularly Puerto Rico.
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A lavishly decorated celebratory altar to the orisha Yemaya, a deity of the sea, will be built by Salvador Ortiz (Junito) expressly for El Museo del Barrio. Sumptuous fabrics, ceramics, bright sequins, foods and delicately strung beads are combined to represent Yemaya’s cool personality. A nearby altar for the guerreros, or warrior deities, will complement the exhibition.
The altar, or trono, is an important component in Orisha Worship, also known as Santería. Orisha Worship is rooted in African Yoruban traditions and was brought to the New World during the Atlantic slave trade. Like the Santos de Palo, the African Yoruban deities and their imagery traveled and evolved throughout the New World. Orisha practices reached both New York City and Puerto Rico by 1959. The exhibition’s sacred spaces will serve as a forum for the discussion of contemporary Orisha Worship practices in New York and its history. The exhibition’s altars will provide the public with a unique opportunity to learn about an important religion of the Americas.
The permanent collection exhibition, audience diversification and public programs related to the Caribbean and Latin American Traditional Art Series are made possible by a generous grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund Museum Collections Accessibility Initiative. Additional support has been provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, and Avon Products Foundation.