Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Exhibition of Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Offers Insight into Funeral Practices

CHESTERTOWN, MD—A unique collection of ancient Egyptian funerary artifacts, many never before shown to the public, will be on display in the Kohl Gallery at Washington College this fall. The exhibition “For Now and Forever: Funerary Artifacts from Ancient Egypt” will open Friday, September 9 with a 5 p.m. reception and will continue through December 2.
Exhibition curator Fatma Ismail, a lecturer in Art at the College, says the 33 items in the show date from the 3rd century CE to the 3rd millennium BCE and include funerary and votive objects in bronze, wood, stone and faience. Except for one object from the Johns Hopkins University Archaeological Museum, all the objects come from a private collection in Baltimore whose owners wish to remain anonymous.
“Students and visitors will see a range of objects that include animal statuary, a wooden mask and coffin, representations of different Egyptian gods and goddesses, and an early dynastic jar,” says Ismail. “These artifacts reveal how the ancient Egyptians prepared for their journey to the afterlife. And they illustrate how a fundamental human concern, the nature of life and death, connects us all.”
Ismail, who earned her Ph.D. from the Near Eastern Department of the Johns Hopkins University in 2009, has been part of the University’s excavation team at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut at Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. A highly interdisciplinary scholar, she studies early religions and the history and civilization of North Africa and the Near East. She has worked on nationally prominent exhibitions, including “Faces of Ancient Arabia: The Giraud and Carolyn Foster Collection of South Arabian Art” at the Walters Art Gallery and “Quest For Immortality: Treasures Of Ancient Egypt” at The National Gallery of Art.
For the fall semester at Washington College, she will teach a course titled “Reading Egyptian Temples: Stone Wall as Mythology, Theology, and Ideology.”
The exhibition’s designer is Alex Castro, an artist, architect and designer who lectures in Art at Washington College. ‘‘These objects are small but magnificent,” he says, of the funerary artifacts, “and they will be installed in a quite elaborate exhibition.”The Kohl Gallery is located in the Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue, Chestertown. Gallery hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays 1 to 5 p.m., Fridays noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, visit