The Painted Villages of Mesoamerica
By Jeffrey Becom Jeffrey Becom
A tour-de-force photographic voyage into the living world of the Maya, where color is not merely a matter of preference but a powerful statement of belief.
Color-and the symbolic ways that the Maya of Mexico and Central America paint their homes, places of worship, and dwellings for their dead-is the focus of this breathtakingly beautiful and achingly poignant new book. No one who picks up this volume will ever again think of the region solely for its sunny beaches and ancient ruins, nor picture the Maya as a vanished people of the distant past. Through dazzling photographs, vivid travel tales, and the Maya's own poetic voices, readers will come to know the modern Maya as remarkable survivors who continue to sow their deified corn, commune with their gods, and paint life into their color-drenched village walls.
Nearly a decade ago Jeffrey Becom (author and photographer of Mediterranean Color) turned his attention from the Old World to the New and together with his wife, Sally Jean Aberg, discovered a realm where color is not merely a matter of preference but a powerful statement of belief. Come along as the pair trek through a steamy jungle in search of ancient murals, join a highland shaman giving birth to the soul of a house, and crisscross the parched Yucatán Peninsula as villagers celebrate the Days of the Dead with dynamite, incense, flowers, rum, prayers, and paint. In the process they discover that the colors of a corn yellow house, a blood red altar, and a jade green tomb serve as a connective cord stretching back to the painted pyramids. Maya Color is a visual and verbal feast.
New York Times critic Paul Goldberger calls Becom's images "poised between the making of art and the documentation of architecture. . . . He takes a tiny swath of the vernacular landscape and makes of it a composition with the brilliance and intensity of an abstract painting."