Saturday, July 20, 2019
‘The World Turned Upside Down’ Explores Civilization That Might Have Been
This is the title page from Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala’s “The First New Chronicle and Good Government,” copyright 1615. COURTESY: Sun Valley Center for the Arts borrowed from The Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen
Sunday, April 14, 2019


Courtney Gilbert will present a lecture titled “The World Turned Upside Down,” and it doesn’t have anything to do with climate change.

Gilbert’s art history lecture, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16 at The Center in Ketchum, will instead look at an indigenous Andean man named Don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, who wrote a nearly 1,200-page letter to King Philip II of Spain at the beginning of the 17th century.

It outlined a history of the Andean culture and traditions before the Spanish conquest. And it outlined the history of the conquest and the effects Spanish colonial rule had had on the Andean world, which Guaman Poma believed had been turned upside down by unjust practices.

He ended the letter by proposing a new, better form of government that would incorporate pre-conquest Andean political and economic structures. The letter included 398 full-page line drawings in addition to written text.

Gilbert will focus on the drawings, which provide a glimpse into life in the viceroyalty of Peru.

“Guaman Poma’s drawings have fascinated me since I first learned about them as a graduate student,” said Gilbert. “They offer insight into a moment of collision between two cultures with completely different world views—Andean and European—and into the way one man processed that collision and subsequent colonization through his own extended narrative, incorporating both text and images.”

Gilbert has a Ph.D. and master’s degrees in art history from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College. She formerly worked at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas-Austin where she coordinated the planning of a major exhibition of Latin American abstract art.

The lecture is being held in conjunction with The Center’s BIG IDEA project, “Unraveling: Reimagining Colonization in the Americas.”

Tickets are $10 for Center members and $12 for nonmembers, available at or by calling 208-726-9491.


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