More than 500 years ago, artisans in the Inca Empire mastered the production of cumbi, a finely woven tapestry cloth made from the highest quality alpaca fibers. Textiles were the earliest art forms in Peruvian culture, well before the Spanish Conquest of 1532.
This story is the subject of a book in preparation by Julia McHugh, “Dressing Andean Spaces: Textiles, Painting, and Architecture in the Colonial Imagination,” also the subject of her doctoral dissertation in 2017 at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Nasher Museum’s rich collection of Peruvian textiles was a big draw for McHugh, who was appointed Trent A. Carmichael Curator of Academic Initiatives and will start the position Aug. 1. McHugh brings expertise in ancient American art to Duke for the first time in 25 years.
“Julia is a rising star and we’re very lucky that she is coming to Duke,” said Sarah Schroth, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum. “Her expertise in the ancient and colonial Americas means she will make extensive use of our rich collection of Central and South American objects, including thousand-year-old Mayan cylinder vases, Nazca pottery and Peruvian textiles. With a thorough grounding in many areas of art and museum studies, she will be able to bridge all of our museum collections with a wide range of teaching disciplines. With Julia’s guidance, faculty and students will make unexpected and thrilling connections to art.”