The SUNY New Paltz School of Fine & Performing Art has launched a new FUEL Guest Artist and Scholar Fund, with a mission of connecting students, alumni, faculty, staff and local community members with working artists and experts for on-campus events.
On Thursday, March 3, the FUEL program, in partnership with the Art History Department, sponsored a visit from Maya Muratov, associate professor of art history at Adelphi University, who shared her expertise on ancient puppetry and excavated figurines in a large, public lecture, titled “With Strings Attached: Puppet Theater and Popular Entertainment in Antiquity” and a more intimate master class with a small group of students.
“One thing that happens quite often in archaeology is that you find things placed in strange contexts, and you feel compelled to contextualize them and make up stories about them,” Muratov said. “These articulated figures, so popular with Mediterranean cultures starting as early as the tenth century B.C., are often mentioned in Greek and Latin texts, and are represented in the visual art of those cultures. But these clues do not hold all the answers, and as archaeologists and historians we are challenged to understand the various cultures and contexts in which the figures appear, and to answer the question: What was their function?”
To complement Muratov’s lecture and workshop on the ancient articulated figurines, the Dorsky Museum, which has in its collection one of these puppet-like artefacts, worked with the Digital Fabrication Lab on campus to produce facsimiles of the object, using plastic and terra cotta (the original material), to promote students’ further study and comprehension.