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Take a look at a marvelous collection

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By Kirsten Laskey

The Alexander Girard collection at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe is not filled with glittery gems or shiny gold pieces that once belonged to royalty. No, this is a different type of collection.

The collection includes 52 shadow boxes displaying amulets and ex-votos gathered from 22 countries. These pieces can be made out of anything from silver and other precious metals to tin. Additionally, these religious items did not belong to the fabulously wealthy or powerful, but were used by everyday people, said Doris Francis, a research associate at the Museum of International Folk Art.

These are “things you and I might use,” she said.

According to a Mesa Public Library press release, amulets are objects of supranormal potency that safeguard the wearer during critical periods of life. Additionally, ex-votos are small metal objects often in the shape of human figures or parts of the body and are given to supernatural beings in thanks for favors that have been awarded.

Therefore, the collection is a “document of the lives and religious beliefs that are not always preserved,” Francis said.

Girard’s collection isn’t the only thing that is significant. Francis said Girard himself is important in his own right. He was a pivotal designer, colorist and folk art collector.


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