Colors of the Amazon opens at Fleming Museum

Burlington, VT- The East Gallery of Fleming Museum erupts in brilliant color on July 20 with the opening of an exceptional new show featuring elaborate Amazonian featherworks. The exhibition, titled Colors of the Amazon, includes a large selection of ceremonial adornments, ranging from ornate headdresses to full-body costumes, as well cultural objects such as musical instruments and baskets.

Characteristic of all the objects on display in this exhibition is their decoration with fragile, yet marvelously colored feathers from a variety of birds indigenous to the rainforest including the macaw, parrot, and toucan. Figuring prominently in the cosmology and myths of many Amerindian tribes, these birds provide the raw materials for feathered body ornaments and ceremonial objects, which play an integral part in many indigenous Amazonian cultures. At once dazzlingly beautiful and deeply symbolic, Amazonian featherworks not only impart information about the individuals who wear or use them, but also convey important historical facts and mythological legends, which otherwise might be lost in a society without a written language.

Focusing on culture groups from the Brazilian region of the Amazon, including the Bororo, Kayapo, Kuikuru, and Waiwai, Colors of the Amazon explores the distinctive styles, techniques, and symbolism developed by Amerindian tribes, as well as the vital roles that featherworks play in ritual and social contexts. The exhibition includes objects recently donated to the Museum by David R. Nalin, M.D., a member of the Fleming Museum's Board of Advisors, and a collection belonging to the late University of Vermont anthropology professor, James B. Petersen, which was generously loaned by his wife, Jennifer Brennan. Support for this exhibition has been provided by the Kalkin Family Exhibitions Endowment Fund and Heritage Flight.

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Great mask, Tapirape (Brazil), 20th century. Feathers, wood, cane. Gift of David R. Nalin, M.D. 2006.4.26 (Large File 26MB)

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Cap, Kayapo (Brazil), 20th century. Macaw feathers, fiber. Gift of David R. Nalin, M.D. 2006.4.29 (8.2MB)

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Man's headdress, Rikbaktsa (Brazil), late 20th century. Falcon, turkey, parrot feathers, palm fibers, cotton. Collection of James B. Petersen (4.5MB)

Colors of the Amazon: Featherworks from the Nalin and Petersen Collections
DATES: Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, November 19

$5 adults. $10 family, $3 students and seniors. Free to: Museum members; faculty, staff and students of UVM, Burlington College, Champlain College, Community College of Vermont, and St. Michael's College; Children 6 and under.