Sacred Plants, Art and Spirituality Symposium at The Brauer Museum of Art

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Inner Visions: Sacred Plants, Art and Spirituality

Curated by Luis Eduardo Luna
January 9 through April 5, 2015


No reservations are necessary. A full color catalog accompanies the exhibition, available at the Brauer Museum of Art and at the symposium sessions. Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 9 am to 9 pm

A day-long symposium to accompany the exhibition featuring world- renowned authorities. Sessions from 9 am to 4 pm take place in the Harre Union, Ballroom A. The panel discussion at 7 pm will take place in the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources Community Room.

The schedule for the symposium is:

9 – 10 am) Rebecca Bailey (née Stone), Uncovering the Imagery of Sacred Plants in Ancient American Art: Five Major Plant Teachers Five visionary plants have helped indigenous shamans access the Other Side from time immemorial: Datura, Peyote (Lophorora williamsi), Banisteriopsis caapi/inebrians, San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus), and Anadenanthera. Images and symbols of these Plant Teachers appear in the art from ancient Mexico southward through Peru. These renditions vary from naturalistic to abstract. After reviewing the many illustrations of these five major sacred plants, it is apparent that they pervade indigenous Amerindian religion, art, and cultures more than previously realized. 10:30 – 11:30 am) William Richards, Sacred Knowledge: Religious Experiences and Psychedelic Sacraments Based on Richards’ many years of clinical research with psychedelic substances, his presentation will survey various alternative forms of consciousness, including visionary and mystical states of mind. Their relevance for new knowledge on the frontiers of medicine, education and religion will be explored.

11:30 – 1:30 pm) Lunch break

1:30 – 2:30 pm) Rick Harlow, Shaman of Colors
This talk will focus on Harlow’s travels in the Colombian Amazon in 1987-88. He will speak about his time with the Yucuna and Macuna peoples, focusing on their rituals and lifestyle and how his painting was influenced by the experience. Harlow will talk about his initiation into the tribe and his first encounters with yagé (ayahuasca).

3-4 pm) Dennis McKenna, Waking Up the Monkeys: Plant Teachers and the Rediscovery of Nature
Our current global environmental crisis threatens the very survival of the human species, and quite possibly all planetary life. At the root of the problem is our estrangement from nature. McKenna claims that Ayahuasca and other sacred plant teachers have an urgent message for the Problematic Primates: Wake up! McKenna will explain our need to wake up and understand that we are part of nature, and our challenge is to re-understand our relationship to nature. We are here to nurture nature, and each other, and ourselves. Only if we wake up and recognize these truths will life on this planet survive.

4 – 7 pm) Dinner break

7 – 8:30 pm) Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources Community Room. Panel Discussion moderated by exhibition curator Luis Eduardo Luna, featuring panelists Anderson Debernardi, Rebecca Bailey, Rick Harlow, Dennis McKenna, and William Richards. Panelists will discuss works in the Brauer Museum’s exhibition, as well as larger themes and questions treated in sessions earlier in the day.

The Brauer Museum’s exhibition features fine works by Pablo Amaringo (many of which have never before been displayed publicly), Rick Harlow, Donna Torres, Anderson Debernardi, and Alex Sastoque, as well as two Shipibo pots.

Information about the presenters:

Dennis McKenna is a world reknowned ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He is a founding board member and the director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization concerned with the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines. McKenna’s research led to the development of natural products for Aveda Corporation as well as greater awareness of natural products and medicines. He has authored numerous scientific articles and books. He co-authored The Invisible Landscape with his brother Terence and Botanical Medicines: the Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements with Kenneth Jones and Kerry Hughes. McKenna spent a number of years as a senior lecturer for the Center for Spirituality and Healing, part of the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

William A. Richards is a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Medical Center, currently pursuing research with entheogens, and also a clinician in private practice in Baltimore. Richards has researched the use of entheogens in the treatment of alcoholism, severe neuroses, narcotic addiction, and the psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental-health professionals from 1967 to 1977. Currently, Richards is a psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry, Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the senior fellow for the Council on Spiritual Practices. He is widely published in the field of psychoactive substances research and has collaborated with scholars such as Walter Pahnke, Stanislav Grof, R. R. Griffiths, Ralph Metzner, and several others.

Rick Harlow received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art in 1975 and his MFA from University of Cincinnati in 1979. His work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions, and has been reviewed by publications such as The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, and Art New England. He has also appeared in Cultural Survival Quarterly and Earthwatch for his projects with indigenous communities. He has been an invited speaker at many colleges and organizations in the United States and abroad.

Rebecca Bailey (née Stone) received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in art history from Yale University in 1987 and her Master of Arts degree in art history from Yale University in 1982. Her undergraduate studies were done in Art and Perception at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She is Professor of Art History and Curator of Art of the Ancient Americas at Emory University. Her areas of interests include Andean art and architecture (with an emphasis on textiles); Costa Rican sculpture; museology; perceptual theory; art and shamanism. She is also the author of several publications, including The Jaguar Within: Shamanic Trance in Ancient Central and South American Art, 2011.

Luis Eduardo Luna studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, earned an interdisciplinary Master’s degree while teaching Spanish and Latin American Literature at the Department of Romance Languages of Oslo University. He is a former Senior Lecturer at the Swedish School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland, from where he retired, and a former Professor of Anthropology at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil (1994-1998). He received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Comparative Religion at Stockholm University (1989), and an honorary doctorate from St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York (2000). Luna is a Guggenheim Fellow and Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London. He is the author
of Vegetalismo: Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon (1986), and with Pablo Amaringo of Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman (1991). He is co-editor with Steven F. White of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine (2000), and co-author with Rick Strassman, Slawek Wojtowicz, and Ede Frecska of Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys Through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies.

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