Home > Art > Mezcala Temple with Four Columns and Recumbent Figure
About the Object
This remarkable worked object was fashioned over time by carving a green-gray stone (perhaps calcite) into an abstract four-column temple or architectural form. Here three spaces have been carved out to create the columns and areas worked away to make different levels of platforms. There are also stairs leading up to the top, where a human-like figure lies facing up. The figure is abstracted with typical Mezcala features, including a relatively flat head, prominent eyebrows, and cuts into the rock that form the torso and legs.
The upward gaze of the human effigy figures has led some scholars to label these works “star-gazing” figures. Indeed, they may represent shamans, religious leaders, or other individuals noting astronomical phenomena related to agricultural cycles. Others believe these may represent individuals that were sacrificed to ensure abundant harvests, according to spiritual beliefs concerning human obligations to the gods. These figures may be associated with burials, and the material itself also may have been used to create weapons or other important tools used in everyday life.
Iman Issa receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Fine Arts for exploring, through works of various media, difficult philosophical questions, such as the individual’s relationship to places, figures, and events that are collectively familiar, or the difference between experience and recognition.
Neri Oxman receives the Vilcek Prize in Design for creating forms that challenge traditional principles of architecture, product design, and fashion, and juxtapose material properties with environmental constraints.