Folk traditions alive at ‘Brasil and Arte Popular’

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A range of folk traditions are presented in “Brasil and Arte popular,” an exhibition opening Nov. 17 at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. The exhibition runs through Aug. 10, 2014.
This show will feature more than 300 pieces from the museum’s rich Brazilian collection: woodblock prints, colorful ceramic and wood folk sculptures, toys and puppets, religious art, festival costumes and more.
The varied cultural mix found throughout the vast region of Brazil draws from the original indigenous inhabitants and from the Portuguese colonists who began to settle there in the 16th century. Enslaved Africans brought by the Europeans contributed their own religions and rituals, as well as vibrant music and dance.   “Eventually merging traditions created the dynamic cultural fusion that is so uniquely Brazilian,” curator Barbara Mauldin said.
The majority of work in the exhibit is from the 20th century when the last vestiges of colonialism had faded. Then, folk artists found that they had more freedom to portray their history, folklore and daily life.  
And, at last, religious practitioners could carry out their rituals openly, and festival performers were able to both draw from old traditions and use contemporary issues to create lively pageants and dramas.  
One type of performance, known as “capoeira,” will be presented at the opening by Mestre Virgulino and his group, Capoeira Cordão do Ouro Cangaço.
The opening is free to New Mexico residents, and to others by museum admission, between 1 and 4 p.m. on Nov. 17 with refreshments provided by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico.