Beyond the Sea: The Impacts of Coastal Connection Between Pre-Columbian West Mexico and Ecuador

Sydney Barofsky

About Sydney

After marrying my wife, I became interested in the art and archaeology of West Mexico. On our trips to Colima to visit my wife’s family, I was able to see the incredibly complex qualities of Formative ceramics at local art institutions. I began to ask myself- why would Mexican modernists like Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo go out of their way to seek inspiration from these ceramics, even amassing a collection of their own? This experience started me off on the long path towards my dreams of a career in academia. In addition to research, I have an interest in teaching, and learning from others. My philosophy regarding education encompasses creating a curriculum which is accessible to learners of all abilities. Next year, I will be beginning a Master’s program at The University of Denver in art history with a concentration in museum studies to further my academic goals.  


This photograph of Sydney was taken at a museum exhibition in Colima which wanted to draw attention to the experience of blindness, providing replica objects for the blindfolded participants to touch.

About Sydney's Research

Pre-Columbian ceramics from cultures in Ecuador and West Mexico provide evidence of coastal connection between the two areas. In a sample set of seventeen ceramics from the cultures of these areas I demonstrate how coastal connection impacts aesthetic choices. This is evidenced by characteristics of style outlined in my sample set. In addition, archaeological data supports that Pre-Columbian West Mexican ceramics exhibit locally modified aesthetic choices. This calls to mind theory of hybridity, where interaction with different groups of people produces a new, hybrid culture. The complexity of Pre-Columbian West Mexican culture lies in its perseverance as a network of human connection. Ceramics from early cultures in West Mexico illuminate the relationships made through their aesthetic choices. 


Keywords: localize, figurine, ceramic vessel, coastal contact, hybridity, seafaring