Megan E. O’Neil will give a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Wednesday, March 27, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “Reshaping the Past: Ancient Maya Sculptures, ‘After’ and Before.”

This talk comes from a book in progress, The Lives of Ancient Maya Sculptures, which explores how ancient Maya people interacted with stone sculptures and how objects changed over time. O’Neil is interested in acts that change the status of things and their materials, including making, dedication, destruction, burning, and burial, and in the material evidence of those actions. Some works have been marked by multiple engagements over time, so that their material traces may lie beside, overlay, or obliterate one another. Although we may attempt to discern what happened chronologically—separating before from after, and even after that—these material indices exist together in the present and constitute those things. In this talk, O’Neil will introduce her research project and focus on case studies to demonstrate the range of interactions with stone sculptures and what they tell us about ancient monuments, their associations with individuals portrayed on them, and their use in reshaping the past or people’s relationship to it.

Megan E. O’Neil is Assistant Professor of Art History at Emory University and Faculty Curator in the Michael C. Carlos Museum. A specialist in ancient Maya and other ancient American cultures, she received her BA in Archaeological Studies from Yale College, an MA in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in History of Art from Yale. One aspect of her research focuses on ancient Maya creation and interaction with stone sculptures. In her first book, Engaging Ancient Maya Sculpture at Piedras Negras, Guatemala (University of Oklahoma Press), and in multiple essays, Dr. O’Neil examines how the ancient Maya used sculptures to make contact with the past and how sculptures inspired reception and performance. She also published a revised edition of Maya Art and Architecture (Thames and Hudson), co-authored with Mary Miller. Formerly, she was Associate Curator in the Art of the Ancient Americas at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where she curated the exhibitions Revealing Creation: The Science and Art of Ancient Maya Ceramics and Forces of Nature: Ancient Maya Arts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is touring in China. She also was the LACMA curator for City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan and wrote for LACMA’s Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915-1985.