El Tajín is a UNESCO World Heritage archeological site located in northern Veracruz, Mexico, one of the largest and most important cities of classical era Mesoamerica. It is home to hundreds of carved sculptures which have deteriorated over time due to acid rain and wind erosion. Drawings created by Dr. Michael Kampen, now a retired professor emeritus of art history, are the best representations in existence of the site sculptures at El Tajín.
The black & white photographs he took range from views of the entire site to individual sculptures. Due to the damaged nature of the sculptures, photo representations were not ideal for scholarly examination. Kampen scaled the photographs and from the photographs he created meticulous ink on vellum line drawings, enabling the imagery in the weathered sculptures to become more identifiable. There are over 250 drawings and while many are fragments like the sculptures themselves, a substantial number illustrate remarkable figurative imagery offering the opportunity to explore the culture and civilization of El Tajín. This installation focuses on a selection of drawings and photographs created by Kampen and used to illustrate his doctoral thesis The Sculptures of El Tajín.
Dr. Kampen taught art history for many years at UNC-Charlotte, has authored numerous art history texts including Art Beyond the West, a standard text in non-Western art, and currently lives in Asheville, N.C. His book, The Sculptures of El Tajín, has been the sole source for scholars of his meticulous drawings. This exhibition allows some of the drawings their first public viewing in their actual size.
This exhibition will be provided in English and Spanish.
The library's Kampen exhibition was created by library intern Stephen Garza as an internship project for credit towards his BA degree from UNC-Charlotte.