Closer_Look_at_Santos.pdf - A Closer Look at Santos Objects...

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A Closer Look at Santos Objects tell us about ourselves. As we look at their style and symbolism, we can tell a great deal about the artists who made them and about the societies in which artists lived and worked. When we extend our observations by means of techniques that "see" more than the naked eye, we also expand what we can learn. Creative processes - the materials and techniques that artists chose, cultural and traditional influences - become apparent, along with physical evidence of an object's particular history. What has happened to an object may tell us about shifts in its place in society and thus about a society itself. In A Closer Look at Santos , we address other ways of looking at santos , intended for anyone interested in a long and still lively cultural tradition. Santos have been made for centuries, since the early Spanish Colonial era. In the Americas, three main traditions of artisanship - Flemish, Italian, and Spanish - contributed to a distinctly New World style, which blended local expressions and native materials with older imported styles. Today, dedicated artists in Hispanic-American communities are still creating santos , working within an evolving tradition steeped in a rich history but adapting to modern society. Santos , as objects of veneration that play an important role in religious life, lie at the very heart of the Latino cultural tradition. Specialized scientific techniques offer new ways to appreciate them and thus to celebrate some of the many threads that weave the tapestry of contemporary American culture. Seeing with Scientific Techniques In examining santos , archives of historical and anthropological literature are important sources, as are comparative studies of imagery - iconography and iconology. However, when the origin of a santo is uncertain, or the santo has been altered or repainted several times, studying its material structure is necessary to acquire a thorough understanding of the sculpture. When we examine artifacts, assumptions or previous knowledge about them can lead us to interpret, enhance, and sometimes overlook what our senses tell us. By focusing just on using all of our senses, "looking" can be systematic, through, and objective. in technical studies of artifacts, the goal is to use not only all of our senses but also techniques and tools that are extensions of them. Using visible light, our eyes can determine general form and appearance - colors, surface texture, sheen, and so forth - while microscopes can reveal minute details such as layers of paint and pigments that affect color and provide decoration. Imaging techniques that rely on infrared and ultraviolet light and x-rays can reveal otherwise invisible details. Other instruments and techniques literally extend our other senses.
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  • Fall '14
  • Balanta
  • Santos

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