In 1954, Egyptian archaeologist Kamal el-Mallakh discovered in the funerary complex surrounding the Great Pyramid at Giza a 143-foot barge built for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, for whom the pyramid was built. The purpose of the boat is unclear, but some archaeologists believe it was intended as a “solar barge,” a ritualistic vessel designed to carry the pharaoh and the sun god Ra through the cosmos. Space Burial, a new installation by contemporary artist Jesse Small, adapts this belief, drawing a metaphorical association between the funerary practices of the ancient Egyptians and modern satellites.
Small has transformed the Ellen and Richard L. Sandor Gallery with a series of large metal lattices installed throughout the gallery. The lattices are metallic slivers based on the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array astronomical observatory in Socorro, New Mexico. Each sliver represents an edge of the satellite dish, which measures 86-feet in diameter, alluding to a much larger whole. Small perforated the slivers with hexagonal holes, through which he projects light, creating a patterned play of light and shadow across the gallery. Space Burial is chiefly an installation of light; the lattices, though interesting from a sculptural standpoint, are the vehicle by which the actual work is created.
The size and arrangement of holes is far from random. One replicates the geography of a region of Mars strikingly similar to the deserts of Earth. Another uses a visualization of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation or CMB. The CMB is a faint light that permeates the universe, left over most likely from the Big Bang. These patterns intersect and mingle in the gallery, offering metaphorical travel across the universe. As Small explains, “shadows of the pattern broadcast throughout the space, alluding to the dish as an agent of travel through time and space.”
By associating the CMB and surface of Mars with the solar barges of the ancient Egyptians, Small toys with popular ideas regarding the relationship between extraterrestrial life and early human civilization. Author Erich von Däniken was the first to posit a relationship between alien life and the ancient Egyptians in his infamous book Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past (1968). Aliens had visited Earth during the formative stages of human development, he argued, and used their advanced technology to assist humanity in creating technological marvels such as the pyramids. These notions, though dubious, provided the basis for the 1994 film Stargate and its later incarnations on television, all of which explored the idea of extraterrestrial influence on the Egyptians and other ancient civilizations.
Space Burial is an engaging installation, and I would encourage those interested to attend Small’s gallery talk on March 27, in which he will discuss the inception of the work and its significance.
As a bit of trivia, there are 25,000 holes in Space Burial. And though the holes are rather small, we had to count them all. Now we know how many holes it takes to fill the Sandor Gallery exhibit hall.

Mark White
Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director
Through April 8, 2018

Generations in Modern Pueblo Painting: The Art of Tonita Peña and Joe Herrera is the first of its kind: a large-scale, high-quality, scholarly exhibition of three generations of modern Pueblo painting.
Through May 27, 2018

On the surface, these posters promote entertainers, the arts, products, international events, patriotism, and utopian ideals of cross-cultural harmony. Beneath the surface, they reflect the twentieth century’s conflicting values: militarization, world peace, consumerism, religion, individuality, and mass culture.
Through June 2018

Space Burial, created by California artist Jesse Small, is modeled from 86-foot diameter satellite dishes of the Very Large Array in New Mexico. The sculptures intersect the gallery space, forming pattern-infused canopies. Click the image above to enjoy an interview with Small and museum director Mark White.
exchange: Generations
1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 3

Engage in an inclusive discussion about female leadership in the arts with Native artists Holly Wilson, Anita Fields, and Molly Murphy-Adams. Presented by curator W. Jackson Rushing III, exchange will be held in remembrance of the innovative artist Tonita Peña in conjunction with the Generations exhibition. Light refreshments and fried fruit pie will be provided.
Join us!

Experience an installation celebrating women artists, in conjunction with International Women's Day, March 8. The installation is on display in the Hobson Family Gallery. Admission is always free!
Join us!
Media Mixer
7-9 p.m. Thursday, May 3
Dee Dee and Jon R. Stuart Classroom

Join us for an evening of culture and culinary arts as sushi chef and teacher Matt Joplin discusses his personal experience in the culinary field, demonstrates the Japanese art of rolling sushi, and explains the history of fermented rice liquor during a sake tasting. After the class, we will enjoy our edible masterpieces in the Sandy Bell Gallery. 
Muse Item of the Month
Welcome spring in style with a Frida Kahlo Jungle Print scarf from Muse!

These beautiful pieces are luxurious 100% silk. Kahlo's work serves as the perfect accessory on International Women's Day. Ask to see options in blue, red and pink!

Present this coupon for a special discount!

Offer Expires 03/31/2018. Coupon Code: MARCH18
Tel: (405) 325-4938 | Email:

Please visit for full image credits included in the eNewsletter. For accommodations, please contact Visitor Services at (405) 325-4938. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.