CWUAnthropology NewsAnthropology News Folk Art Spotlighted in New Exhibition at Central Washington University, 07 Apr 2016 08:25:52<p>A unique collection of Mexican folk art, known as retablos and ex-votos, is now on display in Central Washington University’s Museum of Culture and Environment in Black Hall.</p><p>The art is part of a collection amassed by Antonio Sanchez, assistant director of government relations at Central Washington University. Retablos and ex-votos are religious images that are hand-painted by untrained artists on small, tin sheets.</p><p>Three-dozen pieces from Sanchez’s collection will be exhibited from April 7 until June 11. An opening reception will be held at the museum on Thursday, April 7, at 6:00 p.m. for the exhibition, which is called, “Miracles of Mexican Folk Art, Retablos and Ex-Votos.”</p><p>Sanchez, who has a PhD in anthropology, said he became attracted to the art form because of its significance to both the largely anonymous artists who created them as well as to the people who placed them in their homes.</p><p>“I started collecting in high school in 1970, and would save my money from picking and selling apples,” Sanchez said. “I continued my collecting and would travel into Mexico in search of these treasures. In those days, however, they were not considered treasures.”</p><p>Sanchez said he was particularly interested in these folk depictions of religious figures “because they were made by the common craftsman for common people to use in their everyday pleas for hope, health, wealth, protection from evil, and all of the mundane caveats of life.”</p><p>In addition to loaning part of his art collection for the exhibit, Sanchez, a former faculty member in the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, also contributed an essay on the history and cultural significance of Mexican folk art in the catalog for the show.</p><p>“As coveted objects of veneration, retablos were an integral and intimate part of the Mexican family,” Sanchez noted in his essay. “They are the testimony of faith of the individual, his community, and the entire Mexican nation.”</p><p>Sanchez said retablos were produced in large numbers by Mexican artists from the late 18th century until the early 20th century. They were usually painted in oil on recycled tin sheets that had originally been made for use as ceiling tiles and for other commercial purposes.</p><p>Retablos usually depict just a deity or saint while ex-votos contain images of an event which the persons is asking for a miracle or thanking the saint or deity for an answer to their prayers.&nbsp; The ex-votos will vary widely in their themes while the retablos will depict the saint or deity almost the same each time.</p><p>Growing up in New Mexico, Sanchez said he was surrounded by the art in his family’s home. He described his mother as the “keeper of the saints” and said she regularly “would nurture and pray to each and every image.”</p><p>He said it was from his mother that he learned the traditions surrounding the images, which inspired him to want to know more about their history and meaning.</p><p>“I became interested in how they were made, why particular images were more common, in what ways these special folk images deviated from the high art found in the churches and cathedrals, and how they became ‘Mexicanized’ by local craftspeople,” he said. “Their story is unique, distinctly Mexican/Mestizo, and hold the key to better understanding this one special part of Mexican history.”</p><p>Over the years Sanchez has acquired approximately 500 retablos and ex-votos. His complete collection numbers nearly 3,000 artifacts, including milagros (folk charms), rosary beads, and a 17th century missal (a book of prayers and instructions used during the Catholic liturgical year).</p><p>Sanchez said his hope for the show is that students, especially those of Latin heritage, will see their history and heritage taken seriously, in a museum setting.</p><p>“I wanted to bring this world-class teaching exhibition to CWU to help leave a footprint on our mission to develop a world-class education at Central,” he said. “It’s a way to build the Latino/Latina culture into the very DNA of this campus, so all students can learn and appreciate it.”</p><p>For more information about the exhibition, contact Lynn A. Bethke, collections manager, Museum of Culture and Environment, 509-963-2313,</p><p>Media contact: Rich Moreno, director of content development, 509-963-2714,<br>&nbsp;</p></br>Four Powerful Exhibits Open at the Museum Of Culture And Environment October 1, 30 Sep 2015 13:51:38<p>The four new exhibits opening at the <a href="">Museum of Culture and Environment </a>will excite your imagination and touch your soul. The opening reception will take place October 1, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in Dean Hall at Central Washington University.</p><p><em><img alt="" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 165px; height: 165px; margin-left: 6px; margin-right: 6px; float: left;">Pluto and New Horizons</em> allows you to explore the outer reaches of our solar system in the exhibit on New Horizons, the robotic spacecraft that has sent back stunning images and data about Pluto.&nbsp; Astronomy Professor Bruce Palmquist will explain NASA’s latest discoveries about Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, a vast region beyond the orbit of Neptune. Planetary scientist Darci Snowden will report on NASA’s brand new discovery of running water on Mars.</p><p>In <em>Touring the Solar System</em>, Museum Studies students have installed a campus-wide map of the solar system. Our sun is represented by an object the size of a baseball (just three inches wide) hanging at the MCE’s entrance. At a scale of 1:18,560,000,000 that means Pluto is located 1,038 feet away in the Art Department in Randall Hall. Students will celebrate with an “inter-planetary” procession that starts in the Art Department at 6:00 pm, heading into the inner solar system in Dean Hall.</p><p><em><img alt="" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 270px; height: 165px; margin-left: 6px; margin-right: 6px; float: right;">Elwha: A River Reborn</em> takes you to the Northwest’s legendary Elwha River Valley to discover the people, places, and history behind a remarkable local story—and the largest dam removal project ever undertaken.*</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><img alt="" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 248px; height: 165px; margin-left: 6px; margin-right: 6px; float: left;">The Penitent</em> by artist Chris Heard presents 15 haunting images from Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), the birthplace of the modern American prison system. This exhibition is part of the university-wide year of dialogue, <a href="">Mass Incarceration and Racial Violence: Black and Brown Lives Do Matter</a>.</p><p>The event is free and open to the public. Parking in CWU lots is free after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, except in specially designated spaces (handicapped, loading) and in residence hall lots.</p><p>The Museum for Culture and Environment is open Wednesday through Friday, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information got to There is no admission charge.</p><p>*<em>Elwha: A River Reborn</em>, based on a Mountaineers book of the same name by Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman, was developed by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in collaboration with The Seattle Times, Mountaineers Books, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. National touring sponsor: The Snoqualmie Tribe.</p><p><br><strong>Media Contact:</strong> Professor Mark Auslander, Museum Director,, 509-963-3213</p><p>&nbsp;</p></br>CWU Professor publishes on the changing meaning of the Confederate flag, 27 Aug 2015 08:11:20<p>In a new essay in the online journal<em> Southern Spaces</em> CWU Anthropology Professor Mark Auslander probes the racially-charged politics of roads, motor vehicles, and flags in the wake of the June 17, 2015 massacre at Charleston's Emmanuel AME Church:</p><p><a href=""> </a></p>CWU Professor Comments in NYT's "Symbols, Swastikas and Student Sensibilities", 06 Aug 2015 07:43:14<p><img alt="" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 200px; height: 200px; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px; float: right;">Symbols—their meaning, history and power to hurt—have been a volatile topic across the country this summer, and college campuses have not escaped the storm.</p><p>Mark Auslander, professor of anthropology at Central Washington University and author of The Accidental Slave-owner, sees the iconography as a springboard for “critically examining history.” Virtually every venerable university has links to the slave trade, he says, so “there’s no way you can purify that history and deny it.”</p><p>Read more of the story in the <a href="">New York Times</a>.</p>Vandalism or Protest? CWU Professor Comments, 08 Jul 2015 08:09:01<p><img alt="" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 200px; height: 200px; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px; float: right;">When someone spray painted "KKK," "Black Lives Matter" and "Murderer" on the base of a statue of a Confederate soldier at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, people took to social media to discuss the incident. Many--including those who want the statue removed--criticized the tactic, calling it vandalism. Some comments were quite critical of whoever wrote those things, with many comments assuming they were students . . . .</p><p>Mark Auslander, associate professor of anthropology and museum studies at Central Washington University, who has written extensively about ties between American colleges and the institution of slavery, said that many colleges have not addressed their own histories in this regard and should expect more "historical guerrilla warfare" as a result.</p><p>Read the rest of Scott Jaschik's story in <a href="">Inside Higher Ed</a>.</p><p>In addition, Auslander has been invited to give a <a href="">TedX Salon</a> talk about racial justice and historical reenactment in the TED Talk Tuesdays series on Tuesday, July 14, at 7:00 p.m., at the <a href="">Yakima Valley Museum</a>, 2105 Tieton Dr. in Yakima. The event is limited to 100 attendees; tickets may be purchased at the door for $5.&nbsp;</p>C. Farrell Fine Arts and Research Scholarship, 24 Oct 2014 11:27:51<p>This scholarship is available to Sophomore, Junior, and Senior students at Central Washington University who are pursuing a fine arts project in Art, Music, Theater, or Creative Writing, or who are pursuing a research project pertaining to the History, Geology, Archeology of Kittitas Valley. This scholarship provides one year of in-state tuition, $200 book allowance, and project costs. Please see their website for more information.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">C. Farrell Fine Arts and Research Scholarship</a></p><p>This scholarship is not distributed by the Department of English.&nbsp; Please see the website for deadlines, requirements, and eligibility.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Archaeology Scholarship" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 500px; height: 500px;"></a></p>CWU Senior Offers Genealogy Tips During Internship, 14 Oct 2014 17:08:51<p><img alt="" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 475px; height: 277px; margin: 5px;"></p><p>Virginia Kuehl began her genealogy session with a single clue: the first and last name of her late grandmother, Anna Erwin.</p><p>“She didn’t have a middle name,” Kuehl said. “That always bothered me.”</p><p>Kuehl knew her grandmother was born in England. She knew she arrived in the United States at Philadelphia. She knew she married a McKenzie.</p><p>With the help of Pam Stephenson, a CWU senior majoring in anthropology and minoring in history and museum studies, Kuehl dug up more details. In no time, the pair found a marriage license recorded in Linn County, Missouri in 1906 when Anna Erwin became Mrs. Claude G. McKenzie.</p><p>“Oh, how exciting!” Kuehl said, thanking Stephenson for the impromptu lesson.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.4;">As part of her internship at the Ellensburg Public Library, Stephenson is helping community members with family history research 10:00 a.m.-noon on Fridays and 1:00-2:00 p.m. on Sundays through November 21. Folks are encouraged to drop in for help getting started, for help locating traditional and Internet-based resources, and to get answers to genealogy research questions.</span></p><p>Stephenson’s interest in genealogy was sparked early in life. “My grandma, when I was little, used to tell me stories about my family history, especially about my great- great-grandma Leah, who was raised in New York City and came out West,” Stephenson said. “The first time she saw a cow she literally fell over backwards.”</p><p>Through her own research, Stephenson found that Leah was one of 13 children. Her first husband died, and she divorced her second husband—who was 30 years her senior—over financial difficulties.</p><p>“That’s the thing I love about this, taking names and dates and turning them into people,” Stephenson said.</p><p>Another ancestor, her great- great-grandfather Isaac from Lincolnshire, England, was said to have spent quite a bit of time in and out of jail. Stephenson discovered that Isaac actually killed a man in an Old-West style shootout in a Wisconsin saloon shortly after coming to the United States.</p><p>Once she starts digging into the past, it can get addictive, Stephenson said. And sometimes she discovers so much about a person of a bygone era, it feels like she knows them.</p><p>“It’s taking people who’ve been gone a long time and giving them life,” Stephenson said.</p><p>She has researched her family back to the early 1600s, and connected her ancestors to published genealogies that go back to the Early Middle Ages. Stephenson is especially interested in 19th and early 20th century England (specifically the East Midlands region), Internet genealogy, 19th century US genealogy, newspaper research, and black sheep ancestors.</p><p><em>PHOTO: Virginia Kuehl gets a genealogy lesson from Pam Stephenson, a CWU student interning at the Ellensburg Public Library, on October 10, 2014. (Barb Arnott/CWU)</em></p><p><strong>Media contact:</strong> Barb Arnott, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2841,</p><p>October 14, 2014</p></span style="line-height: 1.4;">CWU Grad Picked for Smithsonian Museum Internship, 26 Jun 2014 11:47:55<p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Hanna Person" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 440px; height: 293px; margin: 5px;"></p><p>Hanna Person, who graduated this month from Central Washington University with a degree in anthropology, is headed to Washington, DC for a paid summer internship at the <a href="" target="_blank">Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History</a>.</p><p>Person, who’s always been a natural history buff, chose CWU because of its anthropology program and museum studies minor and because she wanted to attend a small school. In addition to her classes, Person participated in a five-day field course at Mount Rainier and assisted in multiple exhibit installations at CWU’s <a href="" target="_blank">Museum of Culture and Environment</a>. She says the experiences helped her land the Smithsonian internship, as did the great recommendation from Mark Auslander, professor of anthropology and museum studies and director of the CWU museum.</p><p>“She's extremely hard working, very creative, and takes a good deal of initiative,” Auslander said about Person. When he learned the Smithsonian might be looking for an intern to help organize its Rastafarian collection, he didn’t hesitate to recommend Person to Jake Homiak, director of the collections and archives program at the Museum of Natural History.</p><p>“Internships like this at the Smithsonian are extremely competitive, but my museum studies colleagues and I had no doubt that Hanna would be a very strong candidate,” Auslander said. “We are just thrilled for Hanna.”</p><p>Person will help register and accession the museum's collection of global Rastafarian material culture, working under Homiak, a noted scholar of Afro-Caribbean religions.</p><p><strong>'A quiet adventure'</strong></p><p>“I realize that, for most people, being in the back room and handling the objects is pretty boring. But for me it’s interesting,” Person said. “It’s a little mystery. You’re learning about the object, you’re handling it; it’s like a treasure hunt. A quiet adventure.”</p><p>Person was an intern at CWU’s Museum of Culture and Environment under collections manager Lynn Bethke, who said Person’s work and the work of other interns is vital to the operation of the museum.</p><p>“Hanna is a great student—always ready to take on new challenges, but also detail oriented; great attributes for anyone interested in museums,” Bethke said.</p><p>Person helped in multiple CWU exhibit installations, “writing text, mounting panels, installing objects, and doing all of the many little things that go into making an exhibit come to life,” Bethke said. “She also did a great deal of work processing a collection of baskets from the Philippines which was donated to us in 2012.”</p><p>The Museum of Natural History is right on the National Mall in the heart of the capital. Person hopes to visit as many museums as she can during her six-week stay in Washington, DC, and expects the experience to give her a better feel for museum collection and help her decide what sort of graduate studies she wants to take part in.</p><p>Person is a 2012 graduate of La Center High School and, thanks to Running Start, finished her four-year degree at CWU in just two years.</p><p><em><strong>PHOTO: </strong>Recent CWU graduate Hanna Person is pictured in the past exhibit "Where there's Smoke ... Living with Fire," at the Museum of Culture and Environment. T<em>he exhibit borrowed g</em>ear worn by wilderness firefighters <em>from the state Department of Natural Resources</em>. Person says her experience working at the CWU museum helped her land a paid internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC this summer.</em></p><p><strong>Media contact: </strong>Barb Arnott, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2841, <a href=""></a></p><p>June 25, 2014</p></p style="text-align: center;"></a href="">CWU Primate Behavior Program Signs MOU with Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, 03 Feb 2014 10:19:32<p><img alt="" src="/anthropology/sites/" style="width: 480px; height: 320px;"></p><p>Central Washington University’s Primate Behavior and Ecology (PBE) academic programs are thriving despite the relocation of chimpanzees Tatu and Loulis to a sanctuary in Montreal. CWU and <a href="">Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW)</a>, in Cle Elum, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that allows CWU students to receive credits while being trained at their facility, which is home to seven chimpanzees. There will be no cost to CWU.</p><p>“We’re really tickled,” said Lori Sheeran, PBE director and anthropology professor. “When we knew that the CHCI [Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute] chimpanzees were leaving, we began talking to the people at CSNW about letting our students become involved.”</p><p>The university and sanctuary already have close ties. Co-director John Mulcahy and several staff members are CWU graduates, and trained at CHCI, so there is considerable overlap in ideologies and methodologies. Diana Goodrich, the other director, was the executive assistant at Fauna Foundation, the sanctuary where the CWU chimpanzees now reside. CSNW is only about 30 miles from the CWU’s Ellensburg campus, making it an easy commute for students.</p><p>The MOU allows the primate behavior program to offer another venue for training in animal caregiving and environmental enrichment. Sheeran notes that students in the primate behavior program have many opportunities to work with nonhuman primates, adding “CHCI was one resource, among many.”</p><p>“This training is vital to our students’ abilities to compete for jobs in zoos, sanctuaries, and to prepare for fieldwork,” said Sheeran. “The MOU allows our undergraduate and graduate students to learn safe and humane caregiving practices while earning course credits.</p><p>“Our students are noted worldwide for their abilities to work with chimpanzees, who are sensitive, intelligent, and challenging creatures,” she continued. “The experience of working around nonhuman primates, plus the program coursework, gives them an undeniable edge.”</p><p>In addition, PBE students can conduct research and complete internships at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, the Molecular Anthropology Lab at CWU, or study abroad at the Mt. Huangshan, China macaque sanctuary. Sheeran also recently developed a research agreement with a gibbon conservation center in southern California that will provide several internships annually. Students also can continue to study chimpanzee sign language and communication at CWU using archival data.</p><p>For more information about PBE go to</p><p>CSNW was founded in 2003 to provide sanctuary for chimpanzees discarded from the entertainment and biomedical testing industries. It is located on a 26-acre farm in the Cascade Mountains, 90 miles east of Seattle. It is one of only a handful of sanctuaries in the United States that cares for chimpanzees. For more information about CSNW, go to</p><p>All photos are courtesy of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.</p><p>Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,<br>&nbsp;</p></br>Fire and Its Impact on the Pacific Northwest Discussed at MCE, 05 Nov 2013 10:22:47<p>Thunderstorms, dry summers, and Native American land management have affected the frequency of fire and its effect on the area we live in, according to Megan Walsh, Central Washington University geography professor. Walsh will present “Climatic and Human Influences on the Fire History of the Pacific Northwest,” at 5:30 p.m., November 7 in Dean Hall at the Museum of Culture and Environment at CWU.</p><p>This event is free and open to the public and is held in conjunction with MCE’s new exhibit, Where There’s Smoke . . . Living with Fire. For more information go to</p><p>Parking at CWU is free after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, excepted in specially designated spaces (handicapped, loading) or lots assigned to residence halls.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Media Contact: Elizabeth Bollwerk, Museum of Culture and Environment, 509-963-2313,</p>