naturalhistorymuseumAs I mentioned in my #WeAllGrow Summit post, I was the host for one of the field trips to the Natural History Museum. A group of us were given a lovely tour by the museum's education department of their permanent collections and their current exhibition GRANDES MAESTROS: GREAT MASTERS OF IBEROAMERICAN FOLK ART. I have to make it back to the museum with my guys. The exhibition was so beautiful and rich, I beamed with Latin American pride. The exhibition includes more than 800 works made by approximately 600 of the most accomplished artists from 22 countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela as well as Spain and Portugal. naturalhistorymuseum Of course the pieces from Puerto Rico and Ecuador warmed my heart, and made me wish I could just fly to both places to see my family. This vejigante carnival mask (made of paper mache with a history that dates back to the 1700s) looks like one of many I collected from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. The beautiful colors represent what the Caribbean spirit is all about, and I love that it was included in the exhibit. naturalhistorymuseum When I was child, my mother had several wooden sculptures from her visit to Ecuador of a man and woman working. The image of the couple working peacefully together always stayed with me as a symbol of love and unity. They were both so beautiful and calm. Growing up in NY in a busy household, I recall finding moments of stillness and quiet in those sculptures. During my last visit to Ecuador, I actually found a similar sculpture set and brought it back with me. Something about it feels like home. When I saw Ecuador represented in Grandes Maestros, I had to stop and take in every little detail. How beautiful are those two women sitting on the bench? naturalhistorymuseum There are tons of beautiful textiles throughout ... Because really, you cannot represent Latina America without showing extraordinary bead and stitch work. Same goes for craftsmanship. These jaguars took my breath away. Not only because they're so beautifully done but because jaguars are actually my spirit/power animal - Eccentric, proud creatures who are capable of achieving greatness as long as they can keep their temper under control. They're actually pretty solitary, which is something I try to balance all the time. They're quiet, observant and patient until ... they're not. I can go on and on about the traits of the jaguar that I feel a spiritual connection to, but that may be a post on its own. There's a South American legend that says the jaguar's spots come from mud that was dabbed on with his paws. The spots set the cat apart from the others, and is why he is considered the most unrivaled of the species. According to the Mayans, the jaguar is the earth father and has authority over the sacred power of all the animals on earth. We all have an animal we feel spiritually connected to .. What's yours? naturalhistorymuseum If you're in town, you have to stop by NHM to see the show. It's up until September.