Mexico born, Los Angeles-based photographer Olivia Barrionuevo summons the magic of myth and culture in The Ancient Mexicans, a series that pays homage to the Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations of the pre-Columbian Americas. Her rendering of god, goddess, spirit, and animal feel rooted in another place and time. The series was inspired while Barrionuevo was documenting the Mexican President-to-be Ernesto Zedillo on his campaign trail almost two decades ago, when she came across San Cristobal de Las Casas, a town nestled in the highlands of Chiapas. There she encountered the indigenous Chamulas and Zapotecs, and was captivated not just by their lifestyle now, but their longstanding ability to endure centuries. Inspired to honor her country’s rich Maya tradition, Barrionuevo’s portraits channel the spirit and soul of the past, recognizing that there are some things that are forever powerful.

Barrionuevo was was shortlisted for the Lucie Foundation Scholarship in 2012 and 2013. In addition to her personal projects, she has shot for the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press and has exhibited at The Museum of Tolerance, University of Judaism, Self-Help Graphics, The Historical Lummis House, Belenky Gallery in New York, General Consulate of Mexico in Los Angeles, and The University of Sonora (Unison) in Mexico. Barrionuevo was recently invited by La Calaca Festival to show The Ancient Mexicans at Casa de Europa in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where it is currently on view.

New Poems of Greek Poetess Sappho Recovered

Today, only few poems by the ancient Greek poetess Sappho have survived, but thanks to new findings, two new works have been recovered, giving experts hope to find even more.

These previously unknown poems by the great poetess of the 7th century B.C. came to light when the owner of an ancient papyrus consulted Oxford classicist world-renowned papyrologist Dr. Dirk Obbink about the Greek writings on the tattered scrap.

Despite Sappho’s fame in antiquity and huge literary output, only one complete poem survives until today, along with substantial portions of four others. One of those four was only recovered in 2004, also from a scrap of papyrus.

“The new Sappho is the best preserved Sappho papyrus in existence, with just a few letters that had to be restored in the first poem, and not a single word that is in doubt. Its content is equally exciting,” said a Harvard classics professor upon examining the papyrus.

One of the two recovered poems speaks of a Charaxos and a Larichos, the names assigned by ancient Greeks to two of Sappho’s brothers, though never before found in Sappho’s own writings. The poem is set to cause discussions about whether or not the two men are Sappho’s brothers. It depicts an exchange between two people concerned about the success of Charaxos’ latest sea voyage. The speaker may be Sappho herself, but the loss of the poem’s initial lines makes this unclear.

A horizontal line on the papyrus indicates the end of the first poem and the beginning of the next, an address to the goddess Aphrodite. Only scattered words from this second poem can be recovered from the papyrus, which grows more tattered and illegible to the end.

The two poems share a common meter, the so-called Sapphic stanza, a verse form perhaps devised by Sappho and today bearing her name. Both belonged, therefore, to the first of Sappho’s nine books of poetry and their recovery gives a clearer glimpse into the makeup and structure of that book. “All the poems of Sappho’s first book seem to have been about family, biography, and cult, together with poems about love/Aphrodite,” Dr. Obbink writes.

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