News

Prof. Steven White Presents New Publication

Professor of Modern Languages Steven White presented his new book Ayahuasca Reader, which he co-edited with Colombian ethnobotanist and anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna, in conjunction with the exhibition "Inner Visions: Sacred Plants, Art and Spirituality" at St. Lawrence University's Brush Art Gallery on November 4, 2016. The two authors were introduced by SLU professor Cathy Shrady. Adjunct Instructor Esthela Calderón read one of her poems that appears in the new publication.

The Ayahuasca Reader is a five-part anthology which shares myths passed down over generations of Amazonian healers, personal testimonies from anthropologists about their encounters with Amazonian cultures, a selection of hymns and texts from religious groups using ayahuasca as a sacrament, writings from well-known figures in the literary world on the lasting influence of their experiences, and a section of visionary works of creative visual expression, some of which are part of the current Brush Art Gallery exhibition "Inner Visions: Sacred Plants, Art and Spirituality".

The Ayahuasca Reader provides an extensive introduction to plant medicines, discusses how the active compounds of ayahuasca have become a promising part of new studies of human cognition, and also addresses the role of ayahuasca in creating a deeper respect for the environment.

“Inner Visions,” curated by Luna, highlights artwork that draws its inspiration from a wide range of sacred plants that have been used by Native American cultures over the millennia to enhance health, creativity and an understanding of the physical world. Knowledge about these plants, known for their evocative and visionary powers, has often been forgotten or suppressed due to religious persecution and a culture of prohibition.

The exhibition gathers works of visual expression by more than a dozen indigenous, mestizo, and non-indigenous artists. Contemporary artists Rick Harlow, Alex Grey, Donna Torres and Martina Hoffmann from the United States and Europe join a diverse group of South American artists such as Jeison Castillo, Antar Mikosz, Pablo Amaringo, Anderson Debernardi and Rember Yahuarcani. Produced from the 1980s to present day, artworks in the exhibition incorporate various media, including oil, gouache, pencil, photography, sound and spoken word as well as ceramics, textiles and beadwork by Shipibo creators from the Peru’s Amazon basin in addition to Huichol artists from Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains.

Rick Harlow and Luis Eduardo Luna, introduced by Steven White, gave presentations on November 3, 2016, the opening night of the exhibition. The Brush Art Gallery recently acquired Harlow's painting "The Burial".

Groups of SLU students from a wide range of academic disciplines received magnificent tours of the exhibition, guided by Luna, Harlow and visiting artists Jeison Castillo from Colombia and Antar Mikosz from Brazil. You can listen to an interview with the curator and the artists that was broadcast on North Country Public Radio here.