In this painting, Benítez imagines how odd the sun god would have looked to the ancestors when he first appeared in the world in a fiery eruption near the sacred peyote desert of Wirikúta.

The yarn paintings of the Huichol Indians of northwest Mexico are a relatively new art form that has achieved worldwide popularity in recent years. The University of Pennsylvania Museum’s new exhibit, “Mythic Visions: Yarn Paintings of a Huichol Shaman,” connects this art form to the most ancient legends and practices of the Huichol culture.

The exhibit, which begins its national tour at the Museum from Nov. 8 to March 31, features the works of Huichol shaman José Benítez Sánchez, whose spiritual visions, triggered by the sacred use of peyote, are translated into colorful yarn paintings. Artifacts from the Museum’s collections help place the paintings in their cultural context.

A free public celebration on Nov. 9 from 1 to 5 p.m. includes live Mexican music, children’s activities and a talk by exhibit curator Peter Furst, a Museum research associate.

— S.S.

“MYTHIC VISIONS”: Nov. 8 through March 31 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, 3260 South St. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays and holidays. Admission $8, students/seniors $5, Museum members/PennCard holders/children under 6/all visitors Sundays free.

Originally published on October 30, 2003