Replicas and Reunions
Gardiner Museum, Toronto, 2022
This lobby exhibition features a new body of work by Quito-based artist Pamela Cevallos and five collaborators from the rural coastal town of La Pila: Andrés López, Genaro López, Daniel Mezones, Javier Rivera, and Guillermo Quijije. It explores the artisanal and ancestral knowledge of ceramic production in Ecuador and the continuity of a longstanding tradition.
La Pila and its surrounding regions have been important sites for archeological excavation since at least the middle of the 20th century. Many ancient Indigenous cultures represented in the Gardiner Museum’s collection—like the Jama Coaque, Bahía, Chorrera and Manteño—are from this area. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, some residents of La Pila worked to excavate ancient ceramics on their own or alongside national and international archeologists and art dealers. As an alternative to agricultural work, many residents in La Pila became ceramists and worked to reverse engineer the techniques of their ancestors
Cevallos pairs ancient Ecuadorian objects from the Gardiner Museum’s collection with replicas commissioned from artisans in La Pila to recognize their knowledge and contribution to contemporary art and archeological understandings of the region. She also juxtaposes her paintings to ceramics commissioned from respected senior artisan Guillermo Quijije to respond to timely discussions of the international transit of non-Western cultural objects into systems of capitalist exchange through museum collection-building.
Maya Wllson, curator