Call of the Sun at Delaware Art Museum Honors Indigenous Culture

Photo by Andre L. Wright Jr.

Call of the Sun is an opportunity to honor Indigenous culture through an interactive event including a blessing ceremony and an art session.

Delaware Art Museum’s Call of the Sun, presented by PNC Arts Alive, will be held on Aug. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event begins with a blessing ceremony led by Aztec Chief Jose Avila of the Tonantzin Yaotecas followed by an art session. Participants will paint take-home Aztec and Mayan sculptures while learning about their symbolic meanings and importance to Indigenous cultures. 

This is the second year the museum organized this event following the success of last year, says Community Engagement Specialist Iz Balleto.  

Call of the Sun honors Indigenous people and their culture; an indigenous man holding a piece of indigenous art
Photo by Andre L. Wright Jr.

“It’s called Call of the Sun to understand that a lot of the origins of the Indigenous belief system through the different Americas is the sun. Multiple people [in Indigenous culture] are known as children of the sun,” Balleto says. 

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The event will begin with an opening ceremony as Chief Avila performs a blessing and pays respect to the land and the sun in the museum’s Labyrinth. Participants will then paint sculptures with pre-selected symbolic colors. Chief Avila will bless each piece while teaching the audience about the symbolism of each pre-Columbian artwork and the connections to the Aztec community. Aztec music will also be heard throughout the entire session.  

Call of the Sun’s return coincides with the museum’s current exhibitions In Conversation: Will Wilson and Indigenous Faces of Wilmington which both center on honoring Native people living in the First State. Balleto says all of this programming continues to build the community’s understanding and knowledge of Indigenous people and culture.  

“[The importance of this is] to learn that they’re still existing; to learn that they’re still among us; to learn that they are also people who contribute to the community. But, to learn the main fact that these are not immigrants, that these are migrants. These are migrant warriors that are a part of the Americas,” he says. 

For Delawareans who are new to learning about Indigenous culture, Balleto suggests preparing for the event with independent research to pay respect to the original people and understand the different bands and tribes that have been here and are here.  

“Learn about how history has changed and evolved, but at the same time, learn to always stay grounded first,” he says. “Always come in humble, meaning open to learning, so [participants] can learn more about us and this can also start a process of understanding the differences in the practices of the culture.”  

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Related: Don’t Miss Stan Smokler’s “Steel in Flux” at The Delaware Art Museum

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