Hidden Messages: Petroglyphs of the Orosi Volcano
Virtually unknown to the general public, in an area in the northwest province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica’s ancestors left behind written messages to depict their way of life, culture and world views. Using diagrams, symbols, signs and codes, these pre-Columbian cultures expressed their ideological traditions and artistic performances,
sometimes in more than one language.
The carvings, known as “petroglyphs,” have been studied by archaeologists from around the world to uncover secrets about ancient cultures. Research shows that the petroglyphs portray detailed creativity, combining elements of the environment and daily life. The carvings demonstrate knowledge of the waves and tides, hydrological maps and the use of spheres as markers in the territories in the valleys and plains. Today these historical relics are endangered due to years of exposure to the sun, rain, high winds, and even by unscrupulous people who have
tried to damage or alter the carvings.
Because of their threatened existence and importance to the culture of Costa Rica, two local artists, Carlos Hiller and Rebeca Alvarado, inspired a group of prominent artists to undertake a project of great significance: exploring these artifacts through the field of visual arts. With this project, the 25 artists worked together to recreate original interpretations, and also fostered new interpretations, to enrich the historic and archaeological context of these hidden messages.
Analyzing the many aspects of these pictorial communications were full of challenges, but brought these artists to a new level of creativity. Based on their individual and collective knowledge and experiences, the artists converted and reinterpreted these stones into present-day art, in the hopes of a perpetual documentation of their past.
“Dr. Ellen Hardy, from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA and special investigator of the Orosí petroglyphs worked with us concerning methods of documentation and theme instruction,” says artist Rebeca Alvarado. “Dr. Hardy and leaders Juan Carlos Carrillo and Roger Blanco from the Guanacaste Conservation Area team were instrumental in sharing their collective knowledge and showing us this magical place where the petroglyphs are located.”
This exhibit originated at the Santa Rosa National Park, and the exposition traveled thorughout Costa Rica.
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