KAANCAB: Clay Archive

KAANCAB is a multidisciplinary project developed by contemporary artist Lorena Ancona. She aims to gather and share knowledge about the natural clays and pigments used by Maya people in southeastern Mexico.

The contemporary arts, crafts and worldview of the state of Quintana Roo reflect its Maya heritage. The land there is rich in yellow clays and the raw materials employed in the production of a variety of natural pigments, including the unique Maya blue, a colour that has been used since the pre-colonial period. Lorena uses scientific experimentation to study the behaviour of these raw materials. She also conducts interviews and participant observation with people in the region to research the techniques involved in the production of painted ceramics. She is interested in what these natural clays and pigments can bring to contemporary art practice. KAANCAB will incorporate the expertise of archaeologists, scientists, artists and Indigenous specialists to produce artistic work that is reflexive, holistic and collaborative. This work will open new creative and educational avenues for researchers in the region.

The Centre supports projects developed by contemporary artists. Art practice mobilises complex and challenging narratives, accommodating multiple points of view.

Lorena’s project combines scientific analysis, ethnographic methods, archaeological research and art practice to make contemporary Maya cultural heritage meaningful. Her work is an example of the intersection between contemporary art, archaeological material, and indigenous agency, which is critical in the development of contemporary archaeological theory.

Arcilla Tepacan de Campeche, photo by Lorena Ancona.

Publications related to women’s and maternal health with Wixárika communities by the author of this exhibition


Gamlin, Jennie B. (2013)
Shame as a barrier to health seeking among indigenous Huichol migrant labourers: An interpretive approach of the “violence continuum” and “authoritative knowledge”
Social Science and Medicine 97 75-81

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2023)
Wixárika Practices of Medical Syncretism: An Ontological Proposal for Health in the Anthropocene
Medical Anthropology Theory 10 (2) 1-26

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2020)
“You see, we women, we can’t talk, we can’t have an opinion…”. The coloniality of gender and childbirth practices in Indigenous Wixárika families
Social Science and Medicine 252, 112912

Jennie Gamlin and David Osrin (2020)
Preventable infant deaths, lone births and lack of registration in Mexican indigenous communities: health care services and the afterlife of colonialism
Ethnicity and Health 25 (7)

Jennie Gamlin and Seth Holmes (2018)
Preventable perinatal deaths in indigenous Wixárika communities: an ethnographic study of pregnancy, childbirth and structural violence BMC
Pregnancy and Childbirth 18 (Article number 243) 2018

Gamlin, Jennie B. and Sarah J Hawkes (2015)
Pregnancy and birth in an Indigenous Huichol community: from structural violence to structural policy responses
Culture, health and sexuality 17 (1)